Until this year, the high water level in our well has never been a concern or an issue.
In the 32 years of living in our home, which is located on 7th Avenue (half in, half out of the Village of Mayo boundaries), we have never had to worry about high water levels causing such a disruption to our life, not to mention grief, worry and stress.
The cause of this latest flooding is due to a hole (which was first discovered in 1992) under the Mayo dike.
This hole has resulted in the migration of water into Mayo.
Within the past 18 years, the dike should have been repaired and upgraded. Instead, the quick fix at that time was water pumped from the town side over to the river side. That lessened and lowered the flow of water into town until the high spring runoff subsided.
That process worked.
Emergency Measures’ Chris MacPherson has stated the Mayo dike is not a dike. Was it not constructed as a dike to protect Mayo from high water? On maps, it is referred to as a dike and known to all Mayo residents as a dike. Now you’re telling me that, after 60 years, it is no longer a dike. Who wants to believe that?
As a direct result of the Mayo River flood today, as confirmed by Whitehorse Environmental Health, our drinking water is contaminated.
Our most serious concern is our septic field and system, which is submerged under water, not allowing for sewer drainage. Quite possibly, the sewer may back up, running into our well water. This can be expected if the septic field freezes over the remaining winter months.
If that happens, then we will no longer be able to use our facilities, thus being forced to vacate our premises. Long-term damage might include a frozen septic field which will have to be excavated and reconstructed. Groundwater has now reached the gravel bed in our basement, higher than it has ever been.
A few weeks ago, representatives from Emergency Measures Organization and Yukon Energy came to our residence to view and photograph our well. At that time I explained the only way to alleviate the flow of water into the YEC diesel plant yard, Dan Klippert’s property and our property was to pump the water back into the river just as we had in 1992.
Prior to this, on December 14, I strongly emphasized this method to the Village of Mayo, YEC, and the YTG Highways foreman of the necessity to immediately start pumping the water back into the river.
Once again, I emphasized the flooding situation back in 1992.
This should have been a wake-up call.
Finally, on January 2nd, a decision was made to start pumping water from the Mayo side back into the river.
In the first 24 hours of pumping water, our water table began to slowly drop. Now that the pumps are no longer being used on a regular basis, our water well is on the rise once again.
Our life has been disrupted, and the constant worry about flooding in our basement has had a negative impact on our health. Since this water problem, we have had to rely on the use of our vehicle to transport us back and forth to the Yukon Energy house to haul drinking water, do laundry and to use the shower and washroom facilities. This requires us having to keep our vehicle plugged in 24-7 during the cold winter temperatures. Normally, we use our vehicle only when necessary, especially during the winter.
I am a self-employed placer miner. It is crucial that my time is used to repair equipment throughout the winter months so that my equipment is ready for the next mining season. If not ready, then I am forced to do repairs when I should be mining. Take into consideration that there are, on average, only one hundred mining days in a season. Because of this disastrous flood situation, to date I have lost a month of work and numerous nights of sleep due to the stress of our situation and it will be a long time coming until this situation will be resolved.
What are we to look forward to when natural high water levels occur in the spring?
How are we to be compensated for all the grief, worry, stress and inconvenience this flooding has caused?
We cannot drink our water, we cannot use our laundry facilities, and it is just a matter of time when we are forced out of our home because of the inadequate living conditions.
I hold three levels of government fully responsible for this issue: EMO, Village of Mayo and Community Services. The existing hole in the dike has been common knowledge for the past 18 years. They chose to do nothing to repair it. It is not rocket science, just a hole in the dike!
Because of the lack of responsibility from the three departments, we are forced to deal with disruption and damages to our property.
To date, the only assistance we have received is from Yukon Energy. They have allowed us to use shower and laundry facilities in one of their company houses. We are thankful and appreciate it very much.
The Mayo B hydro project benefits all Yukoners alike.
Upon completion, approximately $150 million will have been spent on this hydro project once it is connected to the Whitehorse power grid.
To accomplish this undertaking, the Mayo River from the bridge downstream must be reconstructed creating a new diversion channel by cutting off the two meandering bends in the Mayo River that are the cause of the glaciation (this can be viewed on Google Earth, which is self-explanatory).
Fisheries and Oceans, First Nations and the environmentalists must accept and support this necessary change.
I have tried to convince all levels of government of the necessary importance of this diversion channel.
Once Mayo B is completed, YEC will require a well-constructed river channel due to the fact that there will be an increased amount of water discharged from the hydro turbines back into the river.
It is proven that fish have the ability to adapt to a temporary change to their environment. Scientific research has proven that fish are of superior intelligence compared to humans.
The approximate length of this diversion is 2,400 feet. Information for construction of channel diversions can be found in the Guide Book of Mitigation Measures for Placer Mining in the Yukon. I do not claim to be an expert in this field, but I have 40 years of placer mining knowledge and experience of constructing diversion channels under the Fisheries and Placer Authorization.
When I do a diversion channel I must use a commonsense approach because, in the end, I incur all expenses.
The expenditures to date prove a lack of knowledge has wasted money thrown at this avoidable disaster.
The reality of what was once a picturesque river system is now a disaster of broken trees pushed into the river to cross back and forth.
A placer miner even contemplating this method of excavation and reconstruction would be charged with an offence under the Fisheries Act.
It is time to stop wasting money. An engineered plan must be implemented. It is time to use commonsense. The ice will not melt until spring, so take the time and do it right.
Kim & Cheryl Klippert