When the Coldwater river breached its banks in a massive flood event on Nov. 15, the force of the water was so powerful it carved a new channel through a residential neighbourhood of Merritt.

Pine St. was the most affected by the river’s changed course, but City infrastructure was also damaged and the functionality of the wastewater treatment plant is particularly threatened.

“The river’s new course down the northern most reach of Pine St., we obviously had a lot of infrastructure in place and it wasn’t just the City that had infrastructure there,” explained Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) Information Officer, Greg Lowis.

“Not only was the course of the river much closer to the wastewater filtration ponds, there was also hydro infrastructure in that area, there’s Fortis gas infrastructure, there’s the infrastructure of the roads. So, at the moment, if we put it back into the course it was in before the flood we now have the opportunity to inspect those services to see if they need to be repaired, rerouted, etc. Again, it’s all related to the safety of the municipality and the residents that live here.”

At this time, the reroute of the river back to its original course is planned to be temporary.

“We don’t have a plan at this point,” said Lowis.

“Obviously, once a river has decided it wants to change its banks then preventing that from taking place can be extremely challenging… I’m sure we’ll need to consider what will need to be done long term on the actual course of the river at that point.”

Repairing infrastructure is key to re-establishing day to day operations within the city and rescinding the standing Evacuation Order. Crews have been working to that end almost non-stop since the flooding began, and the temporary re-route of the Coldwater river is progressing quickly.

“They were initially looking at using a tiger dam to divert water from the river itself and using that to inflate basically a big balloon that would then become solid, like a wall, but I understand from engineering that the length that was required was too long for that, so I think they ended up constructing a temporary dyke,” said Lowis.

“My understanding is that the engineering teams have been working incredibly hard on the temporary diversion program, the bulk of the water flow is now apparently running back in the course that it was in before the flood event took place.”