Chandler Proch adds another sandbag to Okanagan Lake beach as other members of the forestry crew form a chain to feed her more bags. When the lake finally starts to drop, more than 75,000 sandbags will have to be collected. Steve Kidd/Western News

What will happen with all the sandbags?

There is going to be lots of clean-up work to do after the high water crisis ends

Along with damage caused by weeks of high water in lakes and rivers, receding waters are going leave behind some other cleanup problems.

In Penticton alone, more than 75,000 sandbags have been distributed over the last couple of weeks to protect beaches and other low-lying areas. Once the crisis is over, those will have to be collected.

“We get funding to put them down but we don’t to pick them up,” said Penticton CAO Peter Weeber. Throughout the crisis, the province has covered a lot of the extraordinary costs, including the sand and sandbags.

But when all is done, picking them up again is the responsibility of the local authorities. Just cutting the bags open and dumping the sand on the beaches isn’t an option.

“We aren’t allowed to dump it in certain areas because it’s not local sand,” said Weeber, explaining that there would be a risk of contaminating the local ecosystem with foreign seeds and other material.

“You don’t want to be dumping foreign dirt on the beaches,” said Weeber.

One possibility, though it might seem redundant, is the city will create a pit to dump the sand in.

“We may very well dig holes in certain areas and just dump our sand in there and bury it,” said Weeber. “That was one of the plans discussed.”

The sandbags, especially the burlap ones, won’t last long enough to be stockpiled in case of future emergencies.

Weeber said the sandbag question is part of a bigger issue around emergency response operations.

“We tend to do a lot of work in a very short amount of time and usually with full support from the province and funding. Then everybody walks away,” said Weeber, adding that there is funding for certain items during the recovery period, though not moving sandbags.

“We don’t get 100 per cent funding for it. We may get some support but typically we’re on the hook,” said Weeber. Local authorities have a list of eligible and ineligible expenses, and items that could be considered regular city maintenance or infrastructure repair, like the damage to Kiwanis Walking Pier or concrete blocks the city placed to prevent undermining of key structures aren’t usually on the eligible side.

“That is regular city maintenance, not considered an emergency. So we are actually putting our money out here,” said Weeber, estimating the cost of installing the concrete blocks at $6,000. “The city is expected to maintain their own infrastructure to some extent but emergency works are covered.”

Just Posted

Young PIB man skips jail time for grad party assault

Aaron Jack-Kroeger was sentenced to a 15-month conditional sentence in Penticton’s courthouse

Angels at The Mule

Penticton nightclub introduces angel shots for safety

Honesty turns to harsher jail sentence for Penticton man

Jakob Holmes kicked a cop in the face while she was on the ground after she attempted to arrest him

Update: Fire at Osoyoos business believed to have started on lower level

A fire started on Sunday night at the East Indian Meat Shop and fruit stand

Tagger causes $30,000 damage

Penticton looking for help finding person responsible for graffiti

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in B.C. causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the Port Coquitlam rail yard.

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Dryer explosion at Teck Elkview Operations

Locals report hearing loud bang

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Most Read