New course of Coldwater River causing problems for Merritt's wastewater treatment plant

Can the river be moved?

UPDATE 6:20 p.m.

Officials in Merritt are working with the provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources on what the city called the "new course" of the Coldwater River.

The city inundated by floodwaters says the river is now much closer to Merritt's wastewater treatment infrastructure, causing problems with its operation.

The river is now running down what use to be Pine Street.

An updated posted on Merritt's Facebook page on Friday says the city and the ministry are starting to investigate whether rerouting the river to its original course would be possible, though no plans exist yet.

Merritt city council released a statement to the community on Friday thanking volunteers and first responders for their efforts in the flood recovery.

"Our team at the Emergency Operations Centre has ceaselessly aided and assisted our residents, doing everything they can to make sure Merritonians can come home as soon as possible," the city said.

"Resilience is our ability to rise against unforeseen difficulties and challenges that are placed before us. This calamity and misfortune that has greatly affected our community, has also shed light on how resilient and strong the city of Merritt is."

with files from The Canadian Press

ORIGINAL 11:30 a.m.

Municipal officials in Merritt say a team of inspectors will soon begin assessments of each property directly affected by this week’s flooding, which will get residents one step closer to returning home.

The City of Merritt is bringing in a team of rapid damage assessment inspectors who will grade each property on a familiar scale — green, yellow and red.

“If you’re in the green, that’s good news,” Greg Lowis, the city’s corporate services director and the head of its emergency operations centre, told Castanet.

“Unfortunately and tragically, for people whose homes are in the yellow or red, that means there’s a lot more work to be done.”

Lowis said the city is also beginning to “compartmentalize” the community as it looks toward a partial lifting of the city-wide evacuation order that’s been in place since Monday. He said workers will determine the condition of infrastructure in different parts of town — the water system chief among them — and determine who can return first based on that.

“We’re basically starting to compartmentalize the city,” he said.

“There are large parts of Merritt that were never at risk from floodwaters, but they were evacuated because of the damage done to the wastewater treatment system.”

Lowis said that will mean turning on the water in small sections of the city to check the condition of infrastructure.

“We’re hopeful we will be able to depressurize some of the water system soon,” he said.

Dikes are also being repaired near the city’s wastewater treatment plant, and other critical infrastructure is still undergoing assessment.

Lowis said the scale of the job is unprecedented for the community.

“It’s very big,” he said.

“This is, without a doubt, the largest project the City of Merritt has ever undertaken. Everyone is very focussed on doing what we can to make sure the people of Merritt are able to come home as soon as possible.”

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