Water: Who needs it? Norman Simmons, a retired logger who spent a half-century living in Wynndel, has been giving a lot of thought to the subject of water for much of his life.
Concerned at how climate change and events like forest fires can threaten the Creston Valley water supply has pushed him to produce Water: Who Needs It?, a 50-page publication on the topic. (Read the complete document here.) The publication’s subtitle outlines his intentions: A short story about the past, present and future of water supply in the Creston Valley.
Simmons says there is much to learn from a devastating 1945 forest fire that ripped through the Duck Creek watershed. It took decades for the source of water for much of Wynndel and its agricultural base to heal.
“In 1945 Duck Creek suffered such a devastating fire it was very nearly destroyed as a procreative resource,” Simmons writes in his introduction. “It nearly died and literally had to begin life again.
“In 1945 I was eight years old; I too was just getting started in life. Figuratively speaking, I could say that we, Duck Creek and I, grew up together. Because of my years of intimacy with the creek I am aware of its history. A history that relates to the creek’s biodiversity … a history as it relates to the people of Wynndel. Wynndel, a community I called home for 62 years.”
Simmons’ descriptions of the Duck Creek fire, culled from interviews and conversations over the years, make for a compelling read. And he is convinced that Arrow Creek, supplier of water for Erickson and Creston, could meet the same fate. He also believes that the Arrow Creek will eventually not be able to meet the demands of the population and land that will increasingly be needed to grow fruit and vegetables to counteract the loss of imports from drought-riddled California.
A natural storyteller, Simmons’ accounts of local history make for a compelling read. The stories all serve a purpose though. The current Creston resident wants to put discussion on the table of a need to create a valleywide water system that will sustain residents and agricultural long into the future.
“I have provided copies of Water: Who Needs It? to local politicians, hoping that someone will pay attention,” he said.
He is not a man who likes to point out a concern and then walk away, expecting others to come up with solutions. He offers many ideas, including a need to log selectively the old growth forest that comprises the Arrow Creek watershed. Fire hazards are great, he writes, and every effort needs to be made to reduce fuel on the forest floor and create access to allow for a quick and effective response to fires that will inevitably start.
Simmons also puts forth an argument that the current focus on the Arrow Creek water supply is shortsighted and that the Goat River, up above Kitchener, is a more logical and reliable alternative. In Water: Who Needs It? Simmons has created an intensive overview of recent history and how it relates to Creston Valley residents in 2015.