High waters isolate some Kelowna residents

KLO Creek's high waters damaged a bridge abutment on McCulloch Road, so it has been closed for repairs.

Muddy KLO Creek rushes by under the McCulloch Road bridge

Muddy KLO Creek rushes by under the McCulloch Road bridge

Residents of the city and regional district who live beyond the McCulloch Road bridge over KLO Creek will have to take the long way around, via Highway 33, until repairs are completed on the bridge.

It’s the latest victim of high water on local creeks due to heavy rains and melting snow.

City crews discovered late Wednesday that the fast-flowing waters of KLO Creek had caused damage to one of the bridge abutments, so the bridge was immediately closed until repairs can be completed.

The bridge, which is beyond Gallagher’s Canyon, will be closed over the next week while repairs get underway, but an Emergency Services plan will ensure emergency coverage for residents on the other side during the closure.

Jason Brolund, Central Okanagan emergency program coordinator, said that bridge has had to be closed before for maintenance, and a shuttle was organized for the handful of people who live on the outskirts of Kelowna on the other side of the bridge.

For up-to-date information on the closure, go to: kelowna.ca/roadreport.

With a forecast for continued rain Thursday and again Saturday, followed by showers, there’s no end in sight for residents dealing with concerns about flooding.

Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist forecast a sunny day Friday, with a high of 24 C if the clouds stay away, but another storm is expected to hit this area Saturday, followed by showery weather.

A record 20.4 millimetres of rain was recorded at his office on the UBCO campus last Friday, June 8, while 15.8 mm were measured at the airport weather station. Both measurements broke the previous rainfall record set in 1987 for that date, of 11.6 mm.

Up to Wed., June 13, a total of 55 mm of rain had been measured this month, compared to the normal amount for the whole month, of 41 mm, yet May was drier than average, he noted.

The record amount for June was recorded in 1990, with 103 mm.

Rainfall varied considerably around the Okanagan, which is common with spring and summer storms, said Lundquist, but such weather generally only lasts until the first week in July.

In addition to concerns about rising water in local creeks, Okanagan Lake is now forecast to rise higher than what is called full pool, or its target peak height, by Thursday or Friday.

Des Anderson, section head for public safety and protection for the forests, lands and natural resource operations ministry,  says significant rainfall over the past weekend changed how they operate the lake.

Sunday, they re-opened dams on the Okanagan Lake system to release as much water as reasonable south of the border.

“We’re not aware of any problems downstream at this point,” he said.

Last week, it had looked as if the lake might not even reach full pool this year, but “We run the system based on the information at hand,” he explained.

Unfortunately, as the lake level gets close to its target level, there’s less room to move if something like the weather suddenly changes the situation, he noted.

As well, there’s still more than 300 mm of snow remaining high in the Mission Creek watershed to melt, so once temperatures warm up at that elevation, snowmelt will add to what’s in local creek channels.

Brolund admits frankly that that makes him uncomfortable.

“Even with a week of sun, I couldn’t relax because there’s still a lot of snow in the watershed,” he commented.

The city has applied to the province to have this area declared eligible for disaster assistance funding as a result of Mill Creek flooding its banks in the Bulman and Totom Road areas earlier this week and causing damage to a number of homes and businesses.

Brolund explained that funding is available in unusual circumstances, which are considered to be a disaster. It takes some time to make that assessment, but it would mean that repairs would be eligible for provincial financial assistance.

A successful application was made for West Kelowna properties affected by the MacDougall Road flood earlier this spring.





Kelowna Capital News

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