The McCallum ditch as viewed from the Post farm looking towards Bandrova farms on Tuesday afternoon. The McCallum is undergoing an engineering assessment. District staff

McCallum Ditch Assessment

District hires engineering firm to conduct assessment of lower McCallum Ditch

The District of Kent has hired an engineering firm to conduct an assessment of the lower McCallum Ditch.

The goal of the assessment, which will cost $33,100 plus tax, is to give the District a more complete picture of the McCallum ditch. The assessment will identify proper channel size to reduce flooding and provide recommendations for mitigation of soil erosion and bank failure, according to a staff report presented to the District of Kent Council at their last meeting Monday, March 23.

“Through several meetings, a plan has been drawn up and identified,” reported Mick Thiessen, District of Kent director of engineering, at the meeting.

Everyone who has their toes in the McCallum waters including local, provincial and federal politicians and bureaucrats, landowners and members of the Agassiz-Harrison Mills Drainage committee, met back in December to discuss what needs to happen. They agreed that a professional engineering report was needed to get data in order to make educated decisions about reducing current and future flooding issues.

The McCallum ditch, which winds its way through the District of Kent and ends in the Mountain Slough, has been the source of flooding for several local landowners. It is also an important stretch of water ecologically.

“The Lower McCallum is one of the Districts’s most important stretches of channel for fish inside the dyke,” says Dr. Mike Pearson, local wildlife biologist with a focus in species at risk. “It is the main spawning area for coho salmon, chum salmon, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and Salish sucker.  It also supports Oregon spotted frog, red-legged frog and a variety of other native species.”

Pearson says he is in agreement that work needs to be done to address flooding in the McCallum ditch and an engineering assessment is the next logical step in that process.

“The same issues that are causing the flooding are degrading habitat as well, and I hope that a project sensitive to both habitat and drainage will be allowed to proceed this year,” Pearson says.

Kerr Wood Leidal (KWL) was hired for the engineering assessment due to their extensive experience working in similar drainage areas. According to their proposal for engineering services, KWL will assess the lower part of the McCallum ditch (basically from Ted Westlin’s property at the intersection of Humphry and Sutherland Road down to where the McCallum flows into the Mountain Slough) to determine the extent of erosion and sedimentation, provide an opinion for flood flow conveyance, prepare drawings to depict the typical cross sections found in the three segments or reaches of the lower McCallum and make inferences to the effects that a maintenance project on Mountain Slough will have on the McCallum channel.

Council members discussed the proposed assessment and all were in favour of hiring KWL to conduct the engineering assessment.

“We certainly need to address the drainage issues down at that end,” said Coun. Duane Post, whose farm is bisected by the McCallum ditch.

Coun. Sylvia Pranger commented that it’s necessary get on with this, “the sooner the better,” so when the window to do any work on the McCallum is open, the District is ready.

The funding for the engineering assessment will come out of the 2015 Agassiz-Harrison Mills Drainage budget.

KWL employees were on-site this week, discussing drainage concerns with the affected landowners and District representatives.

“We had a field crew out yesterday examining the creek for erosion and what’s potentially causing the erosion,” said Dwayne Meredith, KWL project manager Tuesday morning.

Meredith estimates the results will be handed over to the District by late April.