Westlin outlines water woes

Ducks make themselves at home in a field turned swamp after a recent rainfall, near farmer Ted Westlin
Ducks make themselves at home in a field turned swamp after a recent rainfall, near farmer Ted Westlin's home. He is once again urging the District of Kent to maintain the McCallum slough to ensure water flow, something that District staff said earlier this month is planned for this year.
— image credit: Jessica Peters/ Observer

Agassiz farmer Ted Westlin addressed council on Monday night, insisting they focus on cleaning the ditches around Bodnar, Humphrey, Sutherland and Cameron  Roads.

He presented photos and gauge readings of flood events, which he says are becoming more and more common — and costing him money in both lost land and lost use of land.

"The ditch behind my house has doubled in size in six years," he said, as an example of the back up being experienced in low lying farmland in the District of Kent. It's been hoped that the upgrades to the flood box at the base of Mt. Woodside would have helped improve the flow of water from the ditches. But as DFO regulations surrounding ditch maintenance have gotten more difficult to wade through, maintenance has slowed right down — and so has the water flow.

Westlin reminded council he has about 30 full binders available for viewing, documenting the changes in ditch maintenance, the depth levels of each waterway, and weather events.

"Why did the District build a fish friendly pump when adequate channel maintenance is being denied?" he asked. "Hand cleaning is not going to do anything. You need to do lots of work there."

The McCallum ditch is slated for maintenance work this year.

Coun. Duane Post agreed with Westlin that more needs to be done, but added that things need to be done within the framework of the law.

"I know exactly what you're saying with the McCallum system," he said. "It's not performing well."

One of the complications with cleaning the local ditches is the presence of species at risk.

"We have a lot of these on our property as well," Post said. "The fact is, they're there. You can't just go in there and do stuff."

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