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Online Meeting for all members will be held on November 30th, 2023. Draft meeting minutes have been sent to members- link to online meeting will be sent to those who have current membership.
The results of the water samples taken from 6 sites on Gun Lake, Lac La Joie, Walker Creek and Penrose Creek on September 21, 2023 as provided by Cascade Environmental Resource Group Limited are attached and their provided comments:
Please find attached, a copy of the tabulated results of the water sampling program from September 2023, post wildfire. I have also included a map of the sample locations. As you can see, all samples fall within the national and provincial guidelines for drinking water and recreation use, except for:
Sample Site #1 – exceedance for Benzene and a recorded presence of Total Xylenes – These are the byproduct of burned fuels and could be associated with the wildfire. However it should be noted that only one sample exceeded the guidelines for drinking water for Benzene and the presence of Xylenes was not an exceedance.
All samples exceeded guidelines for total coliforms and Penrose Creek (PrC-08), Lac LaJoie (LL-07) and Walker Creek(WC-09) exceeded guidelines for E-coli and fecal coliforms.
A more detailed report will follow shortly.
We are all extremely concerned about the water quality of Gun Lake and Lac LaJoie and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we await the detailed reports. Cascade Environmental has been working as quickly as they can to provide the reports on top of their already committed workload as well as the Riparian assessments for private properties as a result of the wildfire.
The GLRA has not received any of the results directly from the lab and as such we are unable to provide the raw data. We have been instructed by Kandis Lispett, Senior Environmental Emergency Response Officer (Penticton) of the BC HAZ EMERG – Environmental Emergency Program, to work with Cascade Environmental and the Xwistin Band, from whom we await reports.
For additional information and questions, we direct you to contact Cascade Environmental:
The cost of this round of full spectrum and drinking water testing is in the range of$14,000.00. It is our understanding that these tests will need to be done 2 more times, once in the Spring of 2024 and again in the Fall of 2024, to monitor the potential for run off from wildfire affected properties and crown land. We will need total funding in the range of $42,000.00. At present we have requested and have been approved for $10,000.00 from the SLRD Area A Select funds.
The Gun Lake Ratepayers Association is a member funded non-profit association who relies on yearly memberships for much of our funding. If you have not renewed your 2023-24 membership, or are not yet a member, we urge you to do so by visiting our website at https://gunlakeratepayers.ca/membership/ or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our membership numbers are now more important than ever as we are trying our best to represent the area by lobbying the government for assistance and applying for funding. Please consider supporting us!
Contributions to assist in paying for this water testing would also be welcomed. We are not a charity and are unable to provide tax receipts.
Gun Lake Ratepayers Association
On September 17 2023, GLRA sent a letter to the SLRD Board of Directors, Ministry of Environment and MLA Jackie Tegart expressing our concern about the Wildfire Debris Management process outlined in the SLRD’s September 15 Community Update. On behalf of GLRA members, we urged the SLRD to reconsider the prescribed approach and take a leadership role in coordinating the cleanup to support private property owners dealing with their losses and safeguard our drinking water source.
On September 25 2023, we received a response from Jen Ford, Chair SLRD where she offered links to a few resources at SLRD and stated that the SLRD is “committed to exploring all possible options to support our community”, and that they are “actively exploring alternative funding options that may potentially provide assistance in this matter”. Otherwise there were no specifics provided, beyond possible funding options.
On September 27 2023, GLRA responded to Ms. Ford urging them to reconsider their position and provide the support and leadership we need to move forward. We also enquired about the status of the Recovery Manager and their role in the overall recovery.
On October 4th 2023, the GLRA received a response from MLA Jackie Tegart’s office informing us that she has written to the Ministers of Emergency Management and the Environment requesting that the province allocate the necessary resources to assist or fund the cleanup efforts at Gun Lake including assisting with: Environmental Preservation, Community Welfare, Drinking Water Quality and Preserving Local Economies.
Definitely a step in the right direction and we hope that a response will be coming soon.
September 28, 2023
Barbara Rose, Secretary
Gun Lake Ratepayers Association
Dear Barbara Rose:
Thank you for your recent emails regarding an oil slick appearing on Gun Lake.
A response officer visited the area on September 6, 2023, and noted the following observations:
- A small amount of woody debris.
- A small amount of substance was observed floating on the water uncharacteristic of gasoline or diesel.
- Debris including a home heating oil tank and an outboard boat motor was observed in the water.
After obtaining the information above, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ENV) response officer performed the following actions:
- Researched and identified groups and people who regularly sample from the lake and nearby areas to confirm a water testing plan has been established.
- Forwarded requested information about the re-entry guidelines, including a fact sheet developed by the Environmental Emergency Program Wildfire Task Team, to concerned citizens.
- Emailed the environmental consultant in the area, Cascade Environmental, who are performing water testing, to request that collaboration occurs with First Nations for local knowledge input to the plan.
Upon receipt and review of the information listed above, ENV will continue to work with the Lands Manager of Xwisten and an ENV Fisheries Biologist to determine the next course of action.
Thank you again for bringing this issue and your concerns to our attention.
Senior Environmental Emergency Response Officer
Full spectrum water testing was completed September 21 on six sites, Walker Creek, Lajoie Lake and Penrose Creek. We anticipate results by the end of the month. Thank you Candace Rose-Taylor, Dave Williamson (Cascade Environmental Resource Group) and Nick Froese (Bridge River Indian Band (Xwisten)).
Thursday, September 21, we received confirmation from Mike Carson at Interwest Timber Ltd. (ITL), that the 3-block development on Mount Zola is on hold for the time being as they focus on the fire salvage areas.
ITL has talked to the fuel management group and will coordinate with them to assist in that work as it is available in the near future. ITL will seek community input and as that progresses.
ITL is currently identifying areas and doing block and road development at Gun Lake and Gun Creek Road/Tyaughton Lake. They are targeting burnt timber, particularly Douglas-fir and peeler quality.
Their goal is to have Cutting Permits and Road Permits in place in October/November. The first wood to remove will be off the fire guards in both areas and that will hopefully start next week on the Tyax side. Fire guard rehabilitation will happen in conjunction with the wood removal.
The Cutting Permit(s) hauling will start in October/November if all goes well, and it will carry into 2024.
GLRA has organized water sampling at nine sites around Gun Lake, including Walker Creek, Lajoie Lake and Penrose Creek. Cascade Environmental Resource Group along with the Bridge River Valley Indian Band (Xwisten) will take full spectrum and drinking water samples on the sites. Testing will take place on Thursday September 21 and results are expected to be received by the end of the month.
Interwest Timber Ltd., in cooperation with the St’at’imc Tribal Holdings Company (STH), is organizing a meeting to present their initial plan to salvage, reforest, rehabilitate and restore in the area.
A key part to finalizing the plan will be receiving input from the community.
Mike Carson, Forest Manager with Interwest, Clint Ely, RFP and Owner of Interwest and Brieana Van Loon, On-Site Supervisor will be hosting the meeting and everyone from the community is encouraged to attend.
The meeting is scheduled for September 16, 2023 starting at 1:pm at the Gold Bridge Community Centre. An agenda is below.
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Register now using the link https://ess.gov.bc.ca/