The Township of Langley will consider installing a new pump where the Salmon River meets the Fraser, following torrential rains in November that flooded fields, golf courses and roads around Fort Langley.
At the Monday January 10 council meeting, council voted to review options, including additional pumping capacity, at the Salmon River Pumping Station.
Originally put forward by Councilor David Davis and approved at the December 13 council meeting, the motion was again brought forward for reconsideration by Councillor. Kim Richer.
“I want to modify it,” Richter said.
Ultimately, the project was modified to ensure that the consultants working on the project would be familiar with environmental issues in the floodplains. She also wanted to ensure that local First Nations were consulted on any potential plans.
Davis supported reconsideration of his own motion.
“I think it actually makes him stronger,” he said of the changes.
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The motion does not mean that a new pump will be installed, but the possibility will be studied, taking into account the regulations in force.
The debate came hot on the heels of a longtime Langley environmentalist calling for more “room to flood” the Salmon River.
Creek advocate Doug McFee was a founding member of the Salmon River Enhancement Society more than 25 years ago, and on Monday, Jan. 10, he spoke to the township council about the future of the waterway.
“We get flooding frequently,” McFee noted, showing council photos from previous years of fields around Fort Langley, which are often under water during the fall and winter months.
He spoke of the changes that have been made, including the Salmon River pumping station, and various improvements that have been made to pumping and flood control measures in the area since 1995.
“Clearly we can’t get out of the flood,” McFee said. “We tried that and it doesn’t work.”
The pumps where the Salmon River meets the Fraser River can pump about six cubic meters per second, but the river can flow at over 40 cubic meters per second in the winter during heavy rains.
He said the problem is the local topography. The Salmon River in the area meanders for several miles southeast of Fort Langley to its confluence with the Fraser west of the village.
Throughout this area, the elevation is about three meters above river level, McFee said.
“The water is flowing down,” he said. “There is no real descent here.”
He worried that the pumping and dredging would simply damage fish habitat and kill young salmon. McFee suggested strategic purchases of land that could be flooded to reduce the impact of future flooding and operate the pump station in a more environmentally friendly manner.
During the November floods, nearby roads such as 88th Avenue and Glover Road were partially under water. Hay bales wrapped in plastic floated from the surrounding agricultural fields and drifted towards the pumping station, and had to be gathered.
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LangleyTownship of Langley