Intermittently occurring floods have always been a feature of Wasa Lake/Kootenay River system and by the early 1960’s Wasa residents had an informal association whose objective was to address the associated issues. They requested help from the Regional Water Rights Branch to install water level gauges on the lake and Kootenay River in 1965, and began to take daily readings. When extensive flooding followed in 1967 and by 1969, Wasa residents petitioned the provincial government to form a land improvement district whose objective was to mitigate the effects of flooding.
Our Letters Patent state that:
…the objects of the improvement district shall be to maintain a good quality of water in Wasa Lake by lake-level control and treatment of the water therein and land improvement purpose, the acquisition of land, and the acquisition, maintenance and operation of works for these purposes and all things incidental thereto.
(In 1984, residents amended the Letters Patent to include the control of mosquitoes.)
Flooding reoccurred in 1974 and the WLLID hired Environmental Planning and Engineering Consultants (EPECH) to perform a study. Over the next several years, a number of reports were produced:
Stage I Assessment Report, completed in 1975 by EPECH
Stage II Assessment Report, completed by EPECH
The Hydrology of Wasa Lake, completed in 1976 by Ed Livingston for BC Hydro
Stage II Investigation, Assessment Report of 1976 Wasa Lake Monitoring, completed in 1977 by EPECH
Stage III Investigation, Assessment Report of 1977-78 Wasa Lake, completed in 1979 by EPECH
Government funding was available to BC communities through the Water Management Branch for flood control, so in 1984 The Wasa Lake Land Improvement District approached the Regional District of East Kootenay and the Ministry of Environment and Parks to perform a feasibility study. The latter organization decided that the request would be initially investigated at the conceptual stage by the Engineering Section of the Kootenay District office.
The investigation would identify the issues, what has already been studied and attempted, and recommendations.
The resulting Baker Report (Ric Baker) issued in 1987, confirmed earlier reports that Wasa Lake levels were tied to those of the Kootenay River through overland flow and ground water flow. The report explored the pros and cons of a number of options, and recommended that although ground flow could not be controlled easily, overland flow could be mitigated through the establishment of flood control flap gates at strategic points preventing water from flowing into the lake from either the river or the adjacent sloughs. This was the most economically feasible route.
The WLLID pursued the recommendation to install floodgates, and working with the Water Management Branch, by 1989, flapgates were installed in 2 locations:
1. Kootenay River side of the Hanson Channel which passes under Highway 93
2. On an old abandoned railway bed between Cameron Pond and Wasa Sloughs.
In order to install the flapgate between Cameron Pond and Wasa Slough, Water Management partially drained Cameron Pond. Throughout the winter, slough levels were very low and the following spring failed to bring the water levels up to normal standards. Low water caused the death of hundreds of fish before the spring freshet arrived. Residents were upset and some called for the removal of the flapgates. However, despite their initial unpopularity, the flapgates have since been credited with mitigating the effects of flooding in Wasa Lake and the WLLID continues to take responsibility for their maintenance.
In the 1990’s the RDEK took over mosquito control and the trustees turned their attention to other activities, such as raising awareness about water issues, Firesmart Education, and expanding their work with other government and non-government groups. WLLID commissioned several other water-related studies: Drought Planning for the Wasa Lake Area (McArthur 2005), Wasa Lake Foreshore Inventory and Mapping (Interior Reforestation 2009), and Preliminary Review of Flood Works Related to 2012 Flooding at Wasa Lake (McElhanney 2012).* The trustees continue to work closely with the Regional District of East Kootenay, and with the Ministry of Community, Sport and Culture.
*All reports are available in the Library on this website excepting the EPECH and Livingston Reports completed for BC Hydro in the 1970s.
e: firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright Wasa Lake Land Improvement District.