The gas utilization plant at the Cache Creek landfill, which opened in June 2015, helped BC Hydro provide power in the immediate aftermath of the Elephant Hill wildfire. Photo by Wendy Coomber.

The gas utilization plant at the Cache Creek landfill, which opened in June 2015, helped BC Hydro provide power in the immediate aftermath of the Elephant Hill wildfire. Photo by Wendy Coomber.

Wildfire News Briefs: Power from the landfill

When power was restored to Ashcroft, the gas utilization plant at the landfill played a part.

Clinton Health and Wellness Centre resumes service

Interior Health (IH) said last week that regular services at the Clinton Health and Wellness Centre would resume as of Monday, August 21. The facility was closed on July 30 due to wildfire activity.

As of August 21 the centre is open regular hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Lab services will also resume normal operations (Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to noon). Home Health and Home Support services in Clinton will resume operations immediately as clients return to the community.

Individuals returning home now that the wildfire Evacuation Order has been downgraded to an Alert are encouraged to review IH’s information on what to expect in the aftermath of a fire. Please visit the IH website at http://bit.ly/2wu4bMx for more details.

Wastech helped BC Hydro restore power

Russ Black, president of Belkorp Environmental Services (the parent company of Wastech), told The Journal recently about the role the landfill gas utilization plant at the Cache Creek landfill played in the aftermath of the fire, when Ashcroft and some surrounding areas had lost power. Black says that the plant is a major power producer in the area.

“As BC Hydro tried to get the power back up they had trouble balancing the [electrical] load and distributing power,” says Black, who adds that they had been asked to take the plant offline and shut it down because of the fire. “We were asked if the Wastech crew could help, and got special permission to allow Wastech employees to come in and get the plant up and running.

“They came in and did an amazing job in pretty scary conditions. Hats off to our operators; they were very keen to help out.”

Interior Savings BC Wildfires appeal

Interior Savings has donated $5,000 to support Canadian Red Cross efforts on the ground, to provide assistance to those affected by the wildfires, and reports that members have reached out to ask how they can help.

Donations can be made online at http://bit.ly/2v3wduI. Charitable tax receipts will be issued.

The donations will help provide immediate relief for those affected by Evacuation Orders. Beyond meeting those needs, donations may also help with re-entry and assist with long-term recovery and preparedness.

Provincial state of emergency further extended

On August 18, the Province announced that the state of emergency that was put in place on July 7 has been formally extended again, through the end of day on September 1, 2017. This is the third time the state of emergency has been extended.

The state of emergency declaration will continue to apply to the whole province. This ensures that federal, provincial, and local resources can be delivered in a coordinated response to the wildfire situation and continue to ensure public safety, which remains the provincial government’s top priority.

As well, the Province remains committed to provide ongoing, direct financial support to evacuees, with $600-per-household funding being renewed every 14 days until evacuees return home. Eligible small businesses affected by the fires can also now receive a $1,500 emergency grant through the Red Cross and Province.

The state of emergency gives agencies such as Emergency Management BC, the fire commissioner, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, and the RCMP the authority, under the Wildfire Act, to take every action necessary to fight the wildfires and protect residents and their communities.

Red Cross launches Community Partnerships Program

Through funding from the Province of B.C., a $5 million initial allocation has been made to support community-driven efforts for recovery and resiliency. Local groups and community organizations can receive support through an application process.

The Canadian Red Cross Community Partnerships Program may provide support within five areas: emergency relief to support immediate needs; community strengthening to support community connectedness; safety and wellbeing to support individual and community psychosocial services; Indigenous programming to support impacted Indigenous communities; and disaster risk reduction to support mitigation and preparedness for future disasters.

Please note that the Red Cross is prioritizing applications that support Emergency Relief at this time.

The Red Cross is also supporting small businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and First Nations businesses and cultural livelihood on reserve through its Support for Small Business Program. Eligible businesses, organizations, and First Nations can apply to receive emergency financial assistance of $1,500.

For more information about both programs, or to apply for funding, go to www.redcross.ca.

Cariboo and Thompson-Okanagan residents urged to conserve water

With streams and rivers in the Middle Fraser, Similkameen, Coldwater, Nicola, and Kettle watersheds experiencing very low flows, and conditions expected to remain dry, residents of the Cariboo and Thompson-Okanagan regions are urged to reduce their water consumption.

These areas are currently experiencing Level 3 hydrological drought conditions, which call for voluntary water use reductions of 30 per cent from all water users.

The regions could experience water supply shortages in 2017 unless there is substantial precipitation. Ministry staff are closely monitoring river levels and may upgrade the drought level if weather continues to have a negative effect on stream flows and water supply.

Local water conservation bylaws may differ from provincial water conservation targets, due to local water supply and demand, and the availability of storage (lakes and reservoirs) or groundwater. Residential, agricultural, and industrial water users located within municipalities and regional districts are encouraged to observe local water conservation bylaws where they exist. While water conservation is the goal, it is recognized that water is needed to extinguish fires.

Water conservation is everyone’s responsibility. Many communities in B.C. are prepared to deal with water supply shortages and low streamflow conditions by using drought management plans and water conservation programs that are already in place. Water conservation tips include limiting outdoor watering; not watering during the heat of the day or when it is windy; planting drought-tolerant vegetation; taking shorter showers; not leaving the tap running; and installing water-efficient showerheads and toilets.

Assessing wildfire impact on B.C.’s agriculture sector

The governments of Canada and British Columbia are working under the AgriRecovery disaster framework to determine the type of assistance that may be required by British Columbia’s agriculture sector to recover from the impact of wildfires.

Government officials are working together to quickly assess the extraordinary costs farmers are incurring and what additional assistance may be required to recover and return to production following the wildfires. The types of costs under consideration include costs related to ensuring animal health and safety; feed, shelter, and transportation costs; and the costs to re-establish perennial crop and pasture production damaged by fire.

A federal-provincial-territorial cost-shared suite of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs is available to help farmers in managing disaster events, including wildfires. These include AgriStability, AgriInvest, and AgriInsurance. AgriRecovery is a federal-provincial-territorial disaster relief framework intended to work together with the core BRM programs to help agricultural producers recover from natural disasters.

To see BRM programs for B.C. farmers, go to http://bit.ly/2uVVICh. To learn more about AgriRecovery, go to http://bit.ly/2wtBQpt. To see other wildfire response programs that support B.C. ranchers and farmers, go to http://bit.ly/2fWMRcN.