Last week as the flood waters raged, closing Highway 37 North, isolating Stewart and washing out the Nisga’a Highway isolating Greenville with Kincolith in the Nass Valley, Dutch Valley got a heavy dose of what is still to come.
In 2007, while Terrace was experiencing the worst flood in decades, this small community on the Kalum River, just a kilometer north of the Terrace City limits, watched as dozens of acres of valuable agricultural land washed down the river. Even as the flood waters receded on the Skeena River the waters raged on the Kalum River.
This past weekend the water receded off of the field where cattle graze but the ground is now completely saturated. As has been demonstrated by the force of the river since 2007 the silt of the farm land is no match. The Kalum River is preparing to devastate Dutch Valley. It will likely happen during the next high flood waters and these happen at least twice every year, spring and fall.
Below we have copied the links to various articles published on the Dutch Valley tragedy and the ineffectiveness of all levels of government. The most telling aspect is how the Regional District, in concert with the City of Terrace, determined to provide a full water system infrastructure for this area. During the last municipal election, 2008, providing this water system was on a separate ballot.
The construction of these works was completed in 2010. In 2009 the RDKS constructed a heavy rock wall through the trees just inside from the present course of the Kalum River. This containment structure appears to be perfectly placed to ensure the new course of the river will be forced to wash away this entire new infrastructure along with the dozen or so homes currently in Dutch Valley.
Here are the articles with extracts to demonstrate the historical background.Right after the Skeena River event was over we focused our attention on Dutch Valley with this report;July 2007 report on the engineers testing to prepare for erosion protection
. If the Provincial Emergency Program and the Regional District do not take the action now to protect the remaining property by constructing a proper dike then the river is likely to continue to erode the land and in the process taking homes and buildings down the Kalum. Many acres of good land have been lost already and many more are still threatened.In an embarrassing lack of capability and capacity the local governments responded with rotten sand bags.September 2007 just prior to the fall torrent of water. Not the most embarrassing part of this is, the Regional District, after studying the site and having an engineering firm prepare the studies, didn't have the money available to do the work required.
Nope not the most embarrasing. The most embarrassing part is that the sand bags used during the last flood, the ones we were told were no good to reuse, were rotten and actually contaminated, were delivered by numerous "B" train loads to Jim Wolds property in Dutch Valley to stop the rising flood waters.
We watched the bags fall apart as the workers attempted to lift them. So they stacked the pallets side by side and tried to fill with what sand bags they could between the pallets.
How this is going to hold the Kalum River back is beyond us but Wold is very optimistic.
"I really think this might work", he said adding "it's all we've got, I have got to believe it."Then in 2008 the residents tried again to get helpSeptember 21, 2008 RDKS meeting on Dutch Valley Attending this RDKS Board meeting with other residents from Dutch Valley, Wold read from a prepared letter that accused the Provincial Emergency Program official, M. Hurst and RDKS employees of telling lies.
“I am sick and tired of [listening] to the lies for over one year now,” he states regarding these individuals, “these people it would appear want to be part of the problem.”
Wold continued by questioning why money was being spent by the local governments to protect first nations land, the Kitselas along Queensway, when money is readily available from the Federal Government if it was required or asked for.
“The $1.530 million dollars of rip rap to be spent to protect the Kitselas First Nations land is not necessary as the Skeena River has never flooded over the banks at this point in recorded history,” and he continued to claim, “The Kalum has gone over its banks 2 times in 2007 and 3 times in 2008 already with the potential of 1 more time this fall.”And once again in June 2009 the flooding began again with a new twist;June 2009 report on Kalum Breeching its banks Arguments have been made that those that purchased property in this area knew that they were buying in a flood plain so they are on there own, ‘If the river washes away your property and homes too bad for you.’ It is somewhat curious then why the City of Terrace is now in the process of providing municipal services, installing underground water supply services to the homes. It was approved during the last municipal election in the referendum ballot to deliver the City water supply to three areas outside of the municipal boundaries, Dutch Valley being one.
A great joke is being circulated that the City is going to supply fresh water to an area already inundated with water. More water is the last thing they need. But this is no laughing matter. It would take very little effort on the part of the Province to protect this region. The area requires a decent dike to protect the residents and the soon to be installed municipal infrastructure. The studies have already been done and the cost estimates delivered. There is just no desire of the Provincial government to protect people outside of the lower mainland and Sea to Sky (Whistler) corridor.Finally money was found for a dike but in an effort to be clever they started the project at the south end with a hope and a prayer more money would be found for the north end where it was really needed, where the real threat was;Rocks arrive in 2009 Tooms gave credit to Maury Hurst from the Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) for getting the money released to start this work. They have as their first priority to start the protection at the South end of Dutch Valley and extend North (upstream) along the course of the eroding land. $230,000 has been allocated for this first protection project and Tooms hopes that it will extend 400 meters. This is a third of the 1200 meters that Tooms and the engineer on site from McElhanney Consulting believe is necessary to properly protect the homes and residents.Nothing more arrived and it is now two years laterThis past June 2011 the last of the trees in the way, the final line of defense, fell into the Kalum
. The north end of this erosion zone has been decimated. Ten, twenty, thirty acres of great farm land has been lost. There is no way to tell exactly how much actually, it has disappeared down the Kalum River.
The Kalum River is now cutting a path directly into the middle of Dutch Valley. Nothing other then a huge rip rock dam construction project will stop it.Today the Kalum River laps at the farm land and lines up for the final assault. In all likelihood it will go around the east end of Jim Wolds home into a lagoon already there. From there it will attempt to swing west again but will get caught by the heavy rock wall constructed in 2009 which will drive the river right down the road taking out homes and the new water system.
Nothing but a massive dike will prevent this now. Or an act of God called a miracle.
What the situation looked like on Sunday, September 11, 2011. The following pictures are from Google Earth in August of 2009
A closer view. One can clearly see the previous course of the river prior to the flood of 2007. This picture is from 2009 and the trees can still be seen on the north end
Looking south, one can see the dilemma facing the residents and the potential course of the river - top is google 2009, bottom is Sunday Sept 11, 2011
Looking north, one can see the rock dike which will likely contain the water to the residences and roadway