By ROY WOOD
Almost two years after the Gallagher Lake slide and with no federal funding help in sight, the temporary fix to the irrigation system is looking more like it might become permanent.
During discussion of a general overview of the canal system on Tuesday, Water Councillor Rick Machial said: “It doesn’t look like we’re getting any money from the feds … (so) we should be making plans to use the siphon repair into the future. It’s working well.”
The Gallagher Lake siphon and flume portion of the irrigation system was breached in January 2016 by a rockslide. The required rock scaling and blasting for a complete repair were not possible in the time available, so engineers and town staff came up with a temporary solution that saw a steel sleeve inserted into the broken flume, allowing water to flow into the system.
The system opened on time in early April – albeit with a somewhat reduced capacity — supplying farms, orchards and vineyards in the town of Oliver, Electoral Area C and the Osoyoos Indian Band. The temporary fix also performed successfully through the 2017 growing season.
The town has developed a plan for a large-scale diversion of the system around the Gallagher Lake section with a price tag of over $10 million.
The cost would be prohibitively expensive for the town to undertake on its own. The province has agreed to pay for about half the cost and the town has been lobbying the federal government to chip in the other half, so far to no avail.
Asked Tuesday if there has been any response from Ottawa, chief administrative officer Cathy Cowan said, “They say they are looking at it.” She said the town hopes to hear something definitive within six months.
Operations director Shawn Goodsell told council that the capacity reduction caused by the narrower pipe in the repaired section could lead to the imposition of “rolling shut-offs” to sections of the system during particularly hot and dry periods.
Machial said farmers could live with such reductions so long as they were warned in time to schedule around them.
As for the rest of the system, the report indicated it (the ditch-canal) is in a decent condition and with reasonable maintenance and targeted replacements will continue to work well.
Council in August 2016 approved a $105,000 contract for Allnorth Consultants to assess the system. Among the highlights from the report Goodsell offered to council on Tuesday:
•Some 20 per cent of the canal is approaching or past normal maintenance repair and should be replaced within 10 years;
•The other 80 per cent will continue to function with ongoing maintenance;
•The life of the system will continue with annual replacement of prioritized sections of about 300 metres per year; and
•The use of “shotcrete overlay” for the existing canal line should continue because of its cost effectiveness.
Goodsell told council proposals to implement a 300-metres-per-year replacement schedule will be part of upcoming capital budget discussions.