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RDCK chair, John Kettle applauds provincial government

Editor, The Nelson Daily

A letter to Honourable Christy Clark, MLA, Premier of British Columbia by Regional District of Central Kootenay chairperson, John Kettle.

Dear Premier Clark:

On behalf of the Regional District of Central Kootenay I want to sincerely thank you and your government for the immediate and effective response to our letter requesting help. As you know, we were among many throughout the province looking at potentially disastrous implications from inordinate rains and run off.

My first initial response after our Board asked for help was to get on the phone and call our "go to guy" in the Kootenays, MLA Bill Bennett.

My call was to let him know of what we believed to be an impending disaster with water levels rising to 75-year highs throughout our regional district.

MLA Bennett immediately sprang into action on a Sunday and started the ball rolling involving Minister Rich Coleman, Minister Shirley Bond and Minister Steve Thompson Bill Bennett started an effort to help coordinate what was appearing to be an international event given the Columbia River Treaty and the operation of Libby Dam which heavily impacts Canada and our region I also understand you were involved with the Sunday activity and for this I truly appreciate your leadership.

I want to go on record as saying that in the 12 years I have been involved with the Columbia River Treaty through meetings with the Army Corps of Engineers, BC Hydro and Fortis, I have never seen the coordination and cooperation from both sides of the border concerning reaction to flows and information as took place during the last three weeks.

In my opinion, it gave us the leg up to prepare for what looked to be a catastrophic flood event. To my knowledge, never in the history of the Columbia River Treaty have the parties met daily on phone conferences with all affected participants who were asked for input no matter their station in life.

As a result of this incredible cooperation, we (Canada) requested and were granted by the Army Corp of Engineers the action that saw Libby and Koocanusa go "full pool" plus two feet.

If we had not agreed with the Americans on this never-before-tried tactic I honestly believe we would have had millions of dollars of additional damage over and above what we suffered throughout the Regional District areas.

We even had MP David Wilks and MP Alex Atamanenko involved
offering help wherever they could.

Kudos to BC Hydro and the exemplary folks they brought to the table; thanks also to Fortis, but most certainly the Army Corp of Engineers who showed up in force to help us deal with the situation that saw June precipitation exceed 400% of normal.

Additionally, on July 5,2012 Libby Dam reached a peak level of 2459.9 ft.-the highest level on record. This was truly a team effort on an international basis and everyone involved should be thanked.

Lastly, I want to again thank our friend MLA Bill Bennett for his immediate and constructive effort on behalf of all of the folks throughout the Kootenays. We have all been well served by his and your government's leadership and action during this event.

We have stretched our Regional District Emergency Operations to the limit.

I am proud to say we did it without complaint and in an organized professional manner even though many of our folks were working eighteen hour days for the past two weeks.

I am very proud of all involved.

I know the days ahead will see waters receding and thus exposing what may be a huge financial encumbrance for those folks impacted by this once in a 75-year event.

It is in the spirit of helping those that have been hurt that I hope the government considers ample funding for the Provincial Emergency Programs that will most certainly be inundated with claim requests.

PEP did a fantastic job working with our emergency operations and now we should all work together to assist those most in need.

Thank you again on behalf of the Regional District of Central Kootenay for your support and leadership.

Most truly,
John R.Ketlle
Chair, Regional District of Central Kootenay