East Langley water pipeline a litany of disasters

The problems with the water line at the crossing of the Salmon River point to a host of challenges in Langley Township.

Editor: There is much more to the story about the East Langley Pipeline crossing of the Salmon River at 52 Avenue than what Township led your reporter (The Times, Nov. 6) to believe.  This project is a graphic example of what is wrong at Langley Township.

Yet again we see:

– Politicians and senior staff kowtowing to development interests;

– Taxpayers footing the bill for pandering to developers;

– Community not respected, not listened to and kept in the dark; and

– Environmental protection at the Township is impotent.

Salmon River Enhancment Society has posted extensive information on our website www.salmonriver.org, along with a list of the Township candidates who have taken us up on our invitation to tour the site.  Sadly, only one incumbent is on that list.

This timeline says it all.

In 2010, without investigating, council falls for misleading propaganda from development interests and changes the East Langley pipe route from 64 to 52 Avenue. This despite the Township having just sold the right of way at 52 Avenue,  and despite the 52 Avenue route likely requiring a difficult, expensive and environmentally damaging crossing of the important Salmon River.

In 2013, SRES fears turn out to be well-founded. The Township plans to drill under the river from the bottom of the ravine.  These plans would result in extensive damage to the ravine and its habitat. The society points out that directional drilling from the top of the bank, as was done by the Township for the water line to TWU, would route the line under the ravine leaving the ravine and the river intact.

In April, 2014, an incomplete and misleading report to council downgrades directional drilling, claiming a vague risk of hydraulic fluids getting into the river despite also saying that directional drilling is a common means of crossing under rivers.

The chosen method is said to be $1 million cheaper and is described as creating “minimal disturbance and disruption”.    This makes no sense.

There is no mention in the report of:

–  the risk of destabilizing banks by removing trees and running heavy equipment on the bank;

–  permanent tree loss down the bank and near the river; and

–  a coded (protected) tributary and Pacific Water shrew wetland habitat (also protected) on the east bank that will be destroyed.

In the report to council, there is no proper analysis of the true costs of the chosen method. Missing is mention of the need to pay for right of ways down the bank, the costs to clear a difficult area, the unforeseen costs that may occur working in a wet and unstable area and the costs to rehabilitate the area.

In the summer and fall of 2014, the Township claims that the top of the bank (used to establish the 30-metre no go zone to protect the stream) is right beside the stream at the bottom of the ravine.  Prior to this, the Township has insisted on restrictive covenants on properties with the top of the bank defined as, well, the top of the bank above the ravine.

A right of way is negotiated and residents are promised that there will only be a 15-metre working zone down the banks of the river, with relatively few trees removed. The working zone ends up being much wider than promised causing extensive damage to the bank.

There is massive tree removal, including trees on the neighbouring property.  The Township does not bother to ask the neighbour for permission or give notice.

When the drilling becomes difficult, the Township intrudes well within the 30 metre no go zone, removing trees and digging up the area looking for rocks. The area is backfilled but is now unstable and subject to blowing out when the river rises in November rains.

The eastern wetland is turned into a sea of mud mixed with clay.  The coded stream, two other small tributaries, the wetland and its protected habitat are demolished. Attempts by the community to alert the Township to problems at the site are met with inappropriate and combative responses.

It has become clear the Township has not yet developed a plan for rehabilitation of the area. Drilling and equipment problems galore (what do you expect when you are working in a wetland) have put the project far behind schedule and undoubtedly well over budget.

“Minimal disturbance and disruption” and saving money have proven to be far from the truth. No one else would be allowed to ignore the known no go zone or start a project, ignoring protected streams and habitat while not having any firm plans in place for rehabilitation or compensation.

Meanwhile the environmental personnel at the Township are AWOL, letting this environmental mayhem spiral out of control. The Township has much to answer for.

Doug McFee,

Salmon River

Enhancement Society




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