Waterway address system sought by county

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Photo by MANDI BATEMAN An addressing system on the Kootenai River would aid emergency responders in locating people in distress.

BONNERS FERRY — Emergency service responders and the Boundary County Geographic Information System (GIS) Cadastral Cartographic Analyst met on Dec. 16 to discuss ways in which the Kootenai River could be physically addressed.

The need for a mapping and/or addressing of the river waterway comes into question due to the increase in river use, and in ensuring that riverfront properties have a physical address.

Future emergency planning is the main focus, and in keeping the community safe.

“In the past there have been calls of a boater needing some type of assistance on the river with little in the way of information that would give a responder a very good idea of what section of the river they were on,” Sheriff Dave Kramer explained.

Riverside properties are in need of physical addressing for both emergency planning issues as well as with mapping and general addressing needs.

“A property owner contacted the County because they needed a physical address location for their property on the river, which led to a group involving the County GIS, First Responders, and others coming together to review and develop an address and mileage system for the Kootenai,” said Kramer.

Some of the river mileage systems that are in place and used within waterways are utilizing kilometers, such as some maps that begin with the Kootenai Lake, other waterways addressing use nautical miles and yet another one uses the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers system of miles measurement.

“With the increase of people that use the Kootenai River, it was obvious that we needed a way to identify locations along the river if someone was in need of assistance,” said Kramer.

“The Sheriff’s Office had been looking at what current river mileage systems were already in place being used by the railroad and the Army Corps of Engineers.”

The focus group of emergency planners, emergency first responders, county mapper and Marine Deputy Watts, who brought forth his concerns regarding the need, met together to brainstorm and come up with a plan.

“Marine Deputy Watts wanted to have a system so boaters could be educated about where they are at on the river in case of an emergency,” said Kramer. “Marine Deputy Watts worked with this group and the information that he had already collected to help the County come up with a recommended system.”

The GIS recommends using English miles over that of kilometers or nautical miles, and there was discussion within the meeting this past Dec. 16, to use the USACE system of addressing the waterway by increasing the numbering by moving downriver from Montana.

Olivia Drake, the Boundary County GIS Cadastral Cartographic Analyst, took an active approach to the project and has made suggestions on what should be a smooth transition to physically addressing the waterway with minimal confusion.

While the project is still in the planning stages, it is obvious that there will be benefits to the addressing for the community and all who enjoy the river and waterways of Boundary County.

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