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Environmentalists seek Cranberry Lake study

Watershed society raises concerns over impact of Haslam Lake water main replacement
cranberry lake
LAKE CONCERNS: A local group whose mandate it is to protect Cranberry Lake's watershed is concerned about how the Haslam Lake water main replacement could affect the lake. Peak archive photo

Little is known about the source of Cranberry Lake’s water. Even less is known about the impact a major trenching project could have on the health of the lake, says past president of Cranberry Lake Watershed Preservation Society Jerry Eskes.

That knowledge gap is something Eskes said the society wants to see rectified before the replacement of the Haslam Lake trunk water main project goes forward in 2017.

Community conversation on the lake’s health is nothing new, but City of Powell River councillors spoke at their Tuesday, November 15, committee of the whole meeting about how a study of the lake can fit into the city’s plans to replace the Haslam water main using federal and provincial grant money.

“We’ve discussed this a number of times and I think many of us have come to the conclusion that baseline study is required,” said mayor Dave Formosa.

The environmental society wants the city to undertake a broad hydrological survey of the lake’s watershed to identify its sources. Work preparing for the Haslam main replacement up to now has focused only on the areas in the immediate vicinity of the construction, said Eskes.

“It is the possibility of a disruption of this modest inflow that is causing myself and members of the society real concerns,” he said.

A commonly held belief of Cranberry residents is that Miller Creek, which intersects the path of the Haslam Lake water trunk main, is the lake’s main source. According to Eskes, not enough water mapping work has been done to be sure.

Councillor Rob Southcott said he aimed at having the broad study included as a requirement of the tender package during the city’s search for contractors, but later changed his mind due to tight time constraints on the project.

According to conditions of the grant money, the trunk main replacement needs to be finished by March 2018.

Councillor Russell Brewer said there is no reason why a smaller hydrological study cannot be included as part of the project in order to add to the water data the city already has.

“Having walked most of the area I don’t think it is the only source of water for Miller Creek, but it’s for some other professionals to determine,” said Brewer.

City chief administrative officer Mac Fraser said that even though the requirement for a comprehensive study would not be included, it did not mean the city was uninterested.

“It doesn’t fit in the tender package, but it doesn’t mean we don’t take care,” said Fraser. “While that work is being done, the city will make sure it’s done right.”

After the meeting, Eskes said he was glad the city has heard the group’s concerns and pledged that members of the group will participate in collecting data for the study, if asked.

“We’re looking forward to working with the city,” said Eskes. “Before any shovel is put into the ground, let’s make sure everything is going to be okay.”

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