It’s been less than a year since Kelowna residents dealt with one of the region’s worst floods, and they are noticeably on edge.
As rain poured down Thursday night, public demands for action poured into the City of Kelowna.
“We got a lot of public complaints and such in locations where water goes over sidewalks and we have no storm drainage,” said Mike Murrell, with the City of Kelowna.
“In Black Mountain and Kirschner Mountain there was water in basements … There are a lot of groundwater problems right now all over the valley, in areas where there haven’t been in a lot of problems in years or where it has never popped up before.”
That, he said, is because the ground is saturated with snowfall melt, and there was nothing to absorb the rain when its came down.
“We don’t have the forested hillsides anymore where the water takes a long time to drain off and soak into the ground and get soaked up by the trees,” he said.
“Now it’s just lawns, driveways and roads… it flashes off into storm drains, and we see instantaneous effects downstream.”
To deal with today’s trouble spots the city deployed four sewer trucks and they’ve been out all day responding to issues, as they arise.
Thus far, none of the issues are as extreme as last year. Nor do they have to do with the creeks running through neighbourhoods, though what can happen once Mill Creek reaches peak capacity is not far from mind.
“Obviously last year was an extreme event and from that we are taking a more aggressive approach for preparing a potentially similar situation,” he said, referring to the flood that soaked parking lots, and a number of area homes and businesses.
“There’s an expectation from the public we don’t sit back and wait for doom and gloom. Our mandate is protection of infrastructure and public property but along with that the added benefit of protecting private property as well.”
Murrell said city staff just had a meeting this morning to deal with flood planning.
“We’re getting our ducks in a row, mapping out what properties will be impacted and figuring out how best to instruct home owners to protect themselves, what kind of protection works best— whether that be sandbags or the Tiger dams —and how we can facilitate that.”
There are also plans in the works to deal with Mill Creek’s capacity, which has diminished over the years.
Now the city is hoping to do some work on increasing that capacity. It has applied for permits from the province to allow them to do so.
Creek channel capacity restoration projects are the priority right now in anticipation of the snowpack melt, or freshet. They are part of the estimated $10.7-million 2017 Flood Recovery plan, which is 80 per cent funded by Emergency Management B.C. The plan includes the restoration of damage along a number of creeks, lakeshore parks, and public spaces.
“Crews have been out working to remove vegetation, debris, and damage as a result of last year’s flood,” said Fred Schaad, Project Manager for the City of Kelowna.
Channel restoration along Bellevue Creek, damaged during the record setting 2017 flood, is scheduled to begin Monday, March 26, with an anticipated completion date of Monday, April 9.
“There is an increased risk of flooding there if the accumulated gravel on the creek bed is not removed before the 2018 freshet,” said Schaad. “The City has secured the necessary approvals from the government to allow it to restore the channel’s capacity to handle the flow of water to what it was before the flooding last May.”
Crews will be working to remove accumulated gravel as well as install rock armoring at several locations upstream that were damaged during last year’s flood.
Completion of the channel capacity restoration works might take several months and will be slow going and challenging due to all the private properties lining the creeks, with limited access for crews and equipment. However, it is necessary to get into the creeks to remove debris and gravel and restore the creek’s capacity to handle higher volumes of water.
Work that started in January on Upper Vernon Creek is now in the wrap-up phase. Crews will finish the channel construction work there this week and the site is ready for hydro-seeding and planting of trees and shrubs in April. Work included the removal of approximately 2,600 tonnes of concrete, installation of more than 8,000-square-metres of channel bed liner, importing of 12,000 tonnes of rock riprap with boulders up to 5 feet in diameter, excavation, screening, and placement of 9,500 Tonnes of native soils.
At peak production, 18 crew members were on the job with as many pieces of heavy equipment coordinated by contractors Landmark & Woodland Spirits, with channel design by Stantec.
Other works City crews are tending to include Maude Roxby boardwalk repairs to decking and railings and some damaged pilings. Work is also planned for parks and public spaces with damaged walkway pavers, picnic tables, signs and wheelchair ramps.
Residents are also reminded they need permits from the City’s Development Services branch before they reconstruct docks or place any structures across public property.
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 www.cordemergency.ca
ORIGINAL 6:30 a.m.
Heavy rainfall caused flooding Thursday night on Lower Glenrosa Road.
The City of West Kelowna has closed the portion of the road, spanning from Glencoe Road to Glenway Road, until further notice.
Motorists are asked to obey all emergency traffic signage and use Glenrosa Road as an alternative. Pedestrians are advised to stay away from the area as the situation is assessed.
READ MORE: FLOODING COSTS TOP $5.2 MILLION
Transit service via Lower Glenrosa Road is affected. Users can access Route 21 via Webber Road.
City personnel will work today to repair the roadway and are conducting ongoing monitoring for flooding throughout the community.
The City of West Kelowna has just started to undertake a variety of projects o repair damage to public infrastructure caused by last year’s flooding, and to protect infrastructure against possible future floods.
According to the city, projects scheduled to begin once provincial permitting is approved include:
• Lower Powers Creek—increasing conveyance of water in Powers Creek under the Gellatly Road Bridge to Okanagan Lake.
• Middle and Lower McDougall Creek—increasing conveyance in McDougall Creek to protect the sewer, road, and lift station infrastructure in the area.
Projects currently underway include:
• Upper McDougall Creek—protecting the new bridge and underground utilities downstream by excavating material from the creek.
• Powers Creek Intake Reservoir – excavating material from the intake reservoir at the Powers Creek Water Treatment Plant to re-establish the sediment pond and protect intake infrastructure.
• Smith Creek at Carrington Road—removal of sediment.
• Keefe Creek—protecting the sewer line in Rock Ridge Park by re-establishing flow into bypass culvert.
All flood recovery projects combined are estimated to cost $5.24 million and are expected to be complete by the time of the spring freshet this year, said spokeswoman Kirsten Jones in a news release issued by the city Thursday.
Private property owners living in flood-prone areas or near waterways are encouraged to consider how to best protect their property in case of flooding.
Residents are also advised to contact the city’s planning department at 778-797-8830 before conducting any work in waterways or sensitive aquatic areas on your property.
For more information about protecting your property from flooding in the Central Okanagan go to cordemergency.ca.
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