The massive $33.5 million East Langley water line project has hit a few snags along the way, but one last month could have been disastrous to the current salmon run.
On Sept. 13, while a subcontractor was using an auger boring machine to push pipe under Michael’s Brook, upstream from the Nicomekl Enhancement Society hatchery, the area had a collapse.
“Luckily, the salmon run hadn’t started yet,” said Kevin Larsen, Township manager of the environment. “But the collapse did cause a lot of sediment to go into the hatchery.”
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans was brought in and restoration of both the collapsed area of Michael’s Brook and everything downstream had to get underway.
The requirement by DFO was that restoration had to be complete before salmon started spawning, said Larsen.
“Three separate environmental consultants were called in. Some of the restoration included cleaning individual rocks in the stream bed so the fish could spawn in their preferred course rock.”
The work was completed in early October and Larsen said the NES is happy with the results and starting to see the fish come upstream now.
“Nobody is happy the accident happened but thankful it was prior to the fish run,” said Larsen.
But there are other river and stream crossings the massive water line project has to navigate.
“We’ve actually changed construction methods and we aren’t going to be doing auger drilling anymore. We are now pipe jacking (hammering the pipe in). We also have enhanced our mitigation plans.”
East Langley’s water currently comes from seven groundwater wells and every summer, when water usage peaks, restrictions have to be enforced.
The pipeline is designed to end that.
Problems with a pump station in Maple Ridge could also cause trouble for the project to bring Metro Vancouver water to Aldergrove and Gloucester.
It could also mean there will be water restrictions in the Aldergrove area again next summer.
It is the biggest project ever undertaken by the Township of Langley’s engineering department, with 14 kilometres of one-metre diameter water main and a booster pump station connecting to the regional Metro Vancouver water system.
Numerous residents have been upset with the construction disruptions, and the lack of explanations for delays and changes.
Larsen said the project is progressing. Last week, Township engineering and community development manager Ramin Sehfi said he expected the project would be completed on time.