Over 70 Quesnel residents attended an Open House last Thursday night at Voyageur Elementary School to learn more about the West Quesnel Land Stability Program. City staff and engineering consultants were on hand to speak with residents in a one-on-one setting at 6 p.m., followed by a formal and detailed presentation at 7 p.m. Annual public meetings are held to update residents on the progress of the program.
Engineering studies have indicated that removing groundwater from the area will stabilize the land to a manageable level. The 2012 full-scale dewatering program was a $4.731 million project designed to do just that, help reduce land movement in the West Quesnel Land Stability study area.
A thorough review of the 2012 works was presented which included geotechnical, civil and environmental works. The geotechnical and civil works included 13 productive pumping wells, 13 monitoring wells, 10 horizontal drain sites consisting of approximately 64 drains, major storm drainage work on Hawk and Stork Avenues, and the installation of connection piping on all pumping wells and horizontal drains to carry the water from these wells off site. Environmental work consisted of monitoring the ponds in the area for water levels and quality, vegetation, amphibians, and birds.
The monitoring system takes into account surface movement, groundwater levels, flow data from the horizontal drains and pumping wells, and precipitation data.
Results provided in the 2012 Annual Monitoring Report released in April, 2013 indicate (1) movements historically have been between 6 and 87 mm/year; (2) higher ground movement rates in 2008 and 2009, lower rates in 2010 and 2011 and a return to the higher rates in 2012; (3) natural groundwater levels were constant in 2012 after a slight decline noted in 2010 and 2011; (4) the first effects of horizontal drains and pumping wells were noted (a decrease in the groundwater levels); and (5) annual precipitation below normal (since mid-2009) but wetter than normal in late 2011 and first half of 2012.
“The completion of this phase and the continuous monitoring of the area would not be possible without our federal and provincial partners and for their financial support and commitment to the project we are grateful. The West Quesnel Land Stability issue is and will continue to be a top priority of City Council,” said Mayor Mary Sjostrom. “From a preliminary perspective, these first monitoring results are an indication that our previous trial programs were on the right track and we are optimistic about the eventual outcome. Thank you again to the residents and property owners in the study area who have supported and worked with us throughout the process.”
“I strongly support the efforts of City staff and engineers for their geotechnical and civil works and commend them for their environmental leadership throughout this process,” said Mike Cave, Councillor and Chair of the West Quesnel Land Stability Advisory Committee. “I too feel confident of the work we are doing and look forward to the next steps.”
Ongoing monitoring in the key areas will continue for the next 12 to 14 months and will include all new and existing installations as well as 134 automated instruments generating data by the minute and 47 quarterly GPS readings. Once the 2013 annual monitoring report is submitted, we will be better able to assess what effects the full-scale dewatering program has had.
Detailed information and reports on the West Quesnel Land Stability Program can be found on the City’s website, www.quesnel.ca/WQLS.html.
More than $3.154 million was provided by the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia, through the Building Canada Fund-Communities Component program, part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan for this project. The City of Quesnel also contributed more than $1.557 million to pay for the full-scale dewatering program. In addition to the generous federal and provincial contributions, the City of Quesnel has invested more than $2.1 million on the West Quesnel Land Stability Program since 2000.
The next steps will include interpreting the data, further design work, addressing any deficiencies, and lobbying senior levels of government for their continued financial partnership. Building restrictions can only be eased once we have demonstrated that land movement has been brought under control.