By Steve Hubrecht

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The District of Invermere (DOI) is pursuing a grant to help it create a new stormwater management plan.

Completing a stormwater management plan for Invermere will cost around $155,000 and district staff are applying to the provincial community emergency preparedness fund’s Disaster Risk Reduction — Climate Adaptation program to cover up to $150,000 of that.

“We have been chasing quite a bit of grant funding,” Invermere director of public works and operations, Angela MacLean, told council during a recent meeting.

MacLean explained that Invermere last did a stormwater management study back in 2000, and that developing a new plan had been previously identified by Invermere staff as a priority, but with a great many projects on the go at the district, other priorities took precedence. She noted that having a new stormwater management plan in place would probably aid Invermere’s efforts to pursue other grants for flood prevention.

“This could help us get to the top of the list (for flood prevention grants),” she told councillors. “It’s important. (The old study) is quite out of date and doesn’t even cover the entire municipality. (A new plan) would be a good tool to prepare our municipality for the future and to help protect residents from damages.”

MacLean noted in a report on the matter that one of the most serious impacts of climate change for Invermere is the potential for more frequent — and more intense — extreme storm events. Those, she explained, could result in increased load of the district’s current stormwater infrastructure, and pose a risk to local roads and utilities. Such extreme events are already a reality; MacLean cited the example of the crazy hail storm that hit Invermere in July 2021. 

That storm saw enormous hail stones hammer down for more than 20 minutes and created significant localized flash flooding in several part of Invermere, perhaps most dramatically when it turned 7th Avenue (Invermere’s main street) into a temporary flowing river. No people were hurt, but multiple buildings sustained serious damage.

MacLean outlined in the report that Invermere’s existing stormwater management use a mixed system to deal with drainage. “Parts of the district around its downtown — 7th Avenue and 13th Street — have a curb and gutter drainage system, with flow collected in catch basins to a minor system, which ultimately discharges towards Windermere Lake. There are several other smaller isolated sections of this minor system. Most of the residential area drainage in the district is handled through overland flow; roadside ditches and/or isolated dry wells,” she wrote, then pointed out that “as a result, during major storm events, multiple areas within the district are prone to flooding.” 

Invermere councillors were unanimously in favour of staff pursuing the grant and updating the district’s stormwater management plan.

“It is disturbing when you see stormwater running…and you see the sheen of antifreeze and who knows what else going into the lake. I have seen that personally,” said Invermere councillor, Gerry Taft. “It’s obviously not good.”

“It is time to update things and come up with a plan that will help us move forward,” Invermere mayor, Al Miller told the Pioneer, speaking after the meeting. “It should be better and I think we can do better. As a district we need to focus on water, whether that’s drinking water, flood prevention, or in this case, stormwater management.”