Vehicles. Log jams. Buildings.
These are some of the larger debris lodged in waterways from last November’s flooding disaster that can pose threats to public safety, according to a March 16 release from the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD).
Provincial officials are now asking for the public’s help to report any remaining flood debris in the rivers and creeks across the vast FVRD region, with an online reporting tool.
“In November 2021, three large rainfall events known as atmospheric rivers caused flooding in the Sumas Prairie to Hope, Merritt, and Princeton areas,” according to the FVRD release. “The floods had the potential to release and deposit contaminants into the environment which can affect human health and the environment.”
Last week there were 34 debris items reported in the Fraser and Coquihalla rivers. As of March 21, the “flood debris explorer” listed 228 debris items to be removed on an interactive map.
“Contractors are still assessing and expect debris removal to commence around March 21 and into April.”
Some of the debris is natural, like logs, sediment, or sand, and some is human-made, like a truck camper, ATV, bridge components, or a shipping container.
The various types of debris are being assessed, and “where a public safety threat is identified,” provincial officials are working with Indigenous communities, local authorities, and private citizens on a plan for removal.
The Flood Debris Explorer provides an online form where the public can list the debris type, whether natural (log jam, large trees) or human-made (cars, structures), provide a location on a map, (GPS location) and attach a photo. The public can use their computer or smartphone or call the 24-hour Spill Reporting Line: 1-800-663-3456.
For each public safety threat identified, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ENV) works with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNR) under the Heritage Conservation Act (1996) to ensure archeological impacts are minimized when debris is removed. ENV is also guided by FLNR and the Water Sustainability Act (1997) as well as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the federal Fisheries Act (1985) when threats to streams, rivers, and waterways are identified.
See the provincial flood response and environment site for more.
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