Resolution needed

Resident concerned about the response after flooding occurred at his house

Last year, you’ll remember, we waited until early January before getting a 50-plus centimetre dump of snow in 48 hours. Then the temperatures rose. The snow on the Bella Vista highlands began to melt. The water table became more than super-saturated. My next door neighbour called to advise that water was running down the outside of my concrete foundation. I rapidly discovered that it was also running down the inside foundation wall, across the electrical panel and soaking the basement floor carpet.

I called B.C. Hydro. I didn’t want an electrical problem and a possible fire. I also called a plumber. Water on the outside, water on the inside, it just might be a broken water valve. B.C. Hydro checked their electrical distribution vault on the street — bone dry. They checked my water meter, also dry. The last word they stated as they jumped into their truck, “Your property, your problem.” My plumber inspected all water lines and determined all inside water lines, and the outside water valve which is a recessed valve, were intact.

By now, the water problem was seriously flooding over the electrical panel, corroding my circuit breakers in the process. I called an electrical contractor. He dug down to the Telus and B.C. Hydro conduits entering the side of my foundation. It was dirty, muddy work in early February. On exposing the three-inch B.C. Hydro conduit, the contractor cut into the plastic carefully to bleed off any accumulation of water in the conduit. It peed out under terrific pressure.

B.C. Hydro was immediately called again. An examination of two Telus boxes and the adjacent B.C. Hydro vault across the street showed they contained pools of water, directing water downhill through their conduits into my house.

So, how does this mess get started? I believe some 25 years or more ago, the Regional District of North Okanagan or the City of Vernon dug a ditch to open up the subdivision. They then permitted developers to purchase land, build houses and turn the new properties over to new home-owners.

Over time, silt built up in the ditches, added by debris from families getting established, landscaping and making their community more livable. Rocks, gravel and more silt built up, crushed under the weight of human activity, impeding the flow-through of water in the ditches.

Last winter’s extraordinary water levels were unable to flow efficiently through the protective ditches. It flooded the Telus and B.C. Hydro vaults. Water escaped through the conduits directly to my house. As the water column in the conduits built up, it sought its own level, rising up the vertical conduit leading to my Hydro meter, where the water found release through the expansion joint in the walls of our bedroom. Spurting out, it flooded over our electrical panel and on to our basement floor.

What we do know is the utilities’ vaults/junction boxes are subject to water leakage. No permits for any landscaping, which might affect the drainage ditches, were ever required from the city, nor, in my memory, has the City of Vernon inspected the local ditches on our street.

So far, this mess has cost our family more than $7,000 and we still have yet to replace the basement carpet. Will the City of Vernon, B.C. Hydro and Telus offer any relief? Absolutely not.

Their position is that they are absolved of any responsibility. When requested to meet with my electrical contractor to find an approach to resolve the dilemma, they refused. All corporations have procedure manuals, but none of them have procedures to join together to resolve an injustice.

Our family needs a resolution.

Bill Carr