B.C. Wildfire Service personnel will be on the ground next week to help the City of Kelowna with proactive flood protection measures.
City crews and contractors have been monitoring spring runoff conditions for months, increasing capacity in creeks and mapping out locations along creeks where high water has previously caused flooding in urban areas.
“We can’t say whether conditions this spring will lead to flooding from the spring runoff, but we want to be proactive and make sure we have protection along creeks where we’ve had experience with high water in the past,” said Infrastructure Divisional Director Alan Newcombe.
The peak flow of spring runoff, or freshet, is estimated to be three to five weeks away, depending on factors such as snowpack levels, temperatures and precipitation forecasts. Preparation work has focused on creeks that run through the city, and Emergency Management B.C. has approved deployment of two 20-member wildfire personnel to help place bladder dams, baskets and sandbags in strategic locations.
When reliable information is available about freshet conditions, residents in areas that have been identified as being at an increased risk of creek flooding will be notified about protection options.
In addition, Council will be asked Monday to consider a staff recommendation to apply to the UBCM Community Emergency Preparedness Fund for a $750,000 grant to upgrade the Spencer Road crossing over Mill Creek.
Another area of focus is at Roberts Lake, which cannot handle any more groundwater and rain draining into the lake from the area. An EMBC-approved plan will see pumps installed at the south end of the lake, moving water alongside Curtis Road and into Brandt’s Creek. The pumps are expected to be there for six to 10 weeks.
Dredging in Bellevue Creek is complete while dredging in Mill Creek continues, increasing the capacity to keep water in those channels. Vegetation and tree thinning along the creeks also continues for this reason and to improve access and terrain for crews placing protective barriers along sections of the creeks.
Meanwhile, staff and contractors are working through a list of 52 locations in Kelowna that require repairs after last spring’s snowpack melt and ensuing flood, at a cost of approximately $10.7 million. About $3 million in works completed or underway.
More information about flood preparation for this year, flood recovery projects from last year and information about groundwater is available at kelowna.ca/floodinfo and cordemergency.ca.