Upgrades underway at the Sunnyside Reservoir, adjacent to Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, raised concerns among some residents Tuesday (Oct. 20), however, stewards of the park say everything went off without a hitch. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Upgrades underway at the Sunnyside Reservoir, adjacent to Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, raised concerns among some residents Tuesday (Oct. 20), however, stewards of the park say everything went off without a hitch. (Tracy Holmes photo)

‘No issue’ with South Surrey reservoir drainage, despite trail user concerns: urban forest steward

Forest visitor taken aback by ‘unprecedented flooding’ of trails

Draining of the Sunnyside Reservoir raised erosion concerns for some this week, when water gushed from an outfall on the South Surrey facility’s west side as part of an ongoing upgrade project.

“They’re flooding all the pedestrian trails in the Sunnyside forest, downstream from the reservoir,” White Rock resident Mark Kroeker told Peace Arch News Tuesday (Oct. 20).

“Whether that’s a good reason to be dumping the water, certainly, eroding the trails won’t be good. This is unprecedented.”

However, the head of a group that stewards the neighbouring forest assured Friday (Oct. 23) that everything went as planned – with water flowing into a “directed stream bed” that ultimately leads to the headwaters of Elgin Creek – and caused no damage.

“There was no issue. We were there, we were monitoring,” Sunnyside Acres Heritage Society president Ron Meadley told PAN.

“I was working with the men from Metro Van and they were way on top of the whole issue, recognized the concern that they can’t just pour water ad infinitum in terms of quantity.”

READ MORE: Sunnyside Acres’ ‘outdoor laboratory’ overlooked

Metro Vancouver has been working on the upgrade – a $12.9 million project – since last fall. Described as “planned work to maintain and enhance the regional water system,” it includes structural seismic upgrades, construction of an underground valve chamber to regulate water flow in area mains, and improvements to site access, drainage and security.

The process of draining the reservoir – of approximately 4.7 million litres – to facilitate upcoming work began Oct. 15, Metro’s director of engineering and water construction for water services, Goran Oljaca, told PAN in an emailed statement.

While flow is regulated and monitored at all times, “based on community feedback on October 20, staff dialed back the flow to lower the water level near downstream trails,” Oljaca said.

Meadley emphasized that the ‘dialing back’ was not a reaction to an uncontrolled flow.

“The rate that they were doing it, there was no cutback,” he explained. “Based on our concern, they started slow and increased to the point where everything was still under control.

“I didn’t go there and say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, it’s way too high, cut it back.’”

Meadley noted that, upgrades aside, draining and flushing of the reservoir is something that’s done every five years.

He acknowledged that those unfamiliar with the process who come across the flushing could be left “with an impression which is somewhat off-the-mark.”

Oljaca said drainage is anticipated to be finished “within the next several days,” and the project as a whole is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020.

Following the construction work, the City of Surrey is to begin site restoration, he added, citing tree replanting and community amenities including pickleball courts, a bike park and trail features. According to a project overview at metrovancouver.org, the new courts are to be added to the roof of the reservoir.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com
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