City of Kelowna staff continue to prepare for the peak of the spring runoff, increasing creek capacity and working with BC Wildfire Service personnel and contractors to place flood protection along creeks.
Mill Creek remains the main focus of flood protection measures. These include placement of bladder dams, sandbags and the raising of some pedestrian pathways. Tree thinning, brush and debris removal along the waterway is nearly complete, while crews continue to monitor creeks for possible blockages.
“It’s important that we have enough carrying capacity in the creek to handle possible surges in flow from rainfall or rapid snow melt in the hills due to higher temperatures in the forecast,” said Alan Newcombe, Divisional Director of Infrastructure.
Dredging, along with tree and deadfall removal below the high-water mark in Mill Creek, was permitted by the provincial government for the first time in a number of years.
“The City and the province are protective of the natural environment, but we are also responsible for protecting civic infrastructure which in turn protects our residents. We wish we did not have to, but with the reality of the flooding risk and what that impact could be, this work had to be done,” he said.
Work conducted by the city is also supported by the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre. On April 26 Kelowna declared a local state of emergency specifically for Mill Creek to allow crews to access specific private properties to place protection measures to protect public infrastructure.
A berm is being created near Spencer Road to protect it and Mill Creek Regional Park from high water, while sandbags and bladder dams line the creek intermittently from north of the Kelowna International Airport to Okanagan Lake.
Other improvements are in place along Mill Creek to protect infrastructure near Kelowna International Airport and near the Central Okanagan Hospice House.
Low lake levels have been maintained to accommodate this year’s spring runoff. Properties along Okanagan Lake are not expected to be at risk of flooding at this time, and are not currently in need of protection.
Record setting rainfall in 2017 combined with snow melt, saturated ground, and high groundwater levels resulted in major flooding along Mill Creek with considerable damage to Bellevue Creek and the Okanagan Lake foreshore.
Property owners living near creeks, streams, low-lying areas and lakefront are responsible for having a plan and protecting their properties. Subscribe to receive email updates or learn more about local, provincial and federal preparedness resources at cordemergency.ca
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