RDKB granted $395K to further upgrade Saddle Lake Dam

June 9th, 2021

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary has received $395,027 in provincial funding for the second phase of a two-phase project to upgrade Saddle Lake Dam west of Grand Forks, B.C., it announced today.

The first phase of the project included design and construction of a $190,000 free overflow spillway completed in 2019—also funded by the Government of British Columbia. The second phase will increase dam stability above and below the concrete spillway.

“We are grateful to the Province of B.C. for funding this project and helping us further prepare for our annual freshet,” said Danna O’Donnell, electoral area director for Area D/Rural Grand Forks. 

“This project will ensure we have a safer, more stable dam so residents who live and farm in the valley below can expect the spillway and dam to function predictably. We can continue to enjoy hiking, biking and bird-watching in the public access areas near Saddle Lake.”

“This is the only dam the RDKB owns in the region, and it has been a concern for us for several years since a provincial dam safety review in 2014 identified it as being at risk of failure, with very serious consequences for anyone living downstream,” said Goran Denkovski, Manager of Infrastructure and Sustainability at the RDKB.

“We knew that both phases of this project were crucial to maintaining the dam over the long term and ensuring that it would continue to safely spill the water behind it during annual freshet and hold back the water at other times of the year,” said Denkovski.

Construction of the Saddle Lake Dam Phase 2 Stabilization project will begin in summer 2021, pending approval of permits, when the RDKB plans to install lock blocks on the top of the dam to tie the existing concrete face to the earthen section of the dam.

They will then add filter fabric and additional fill on the downstream side to lessen the downstream slope and install rocky material, or riprap, on top of that to prevent erosion and add further stability. The project is scheduled for completion by fall 2022.

Saddle Lake is an artificial lake that formed behind the dam in a saddle-like depression between two hills above rural Grand Forks when local Doukhobor farmers built the reservoir dam to meet irrigation needs for the extensive communal orchards and grain fields below in 1912.

The RDKB acquired the dam in 2012 and has maintained and monitored the dam under the supervision of the B.C. Dam Safety Program since then.

This funding was granted under the 2020 Structural Flood Mitigation category in the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF). Funding goes towards projects that enhance the resiliency of local governments, First Nations and communities in responding to emergencies, and is administered by the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM). 

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