Keeping Kelowna’s lakeshore drains clear

Huge pumps to be used to keep lake water from backing up drainage systems along the lakeshore

Okanagan Lake is expected to reach full pool this weekend and an Emergency Operations Centre official says large pumps will once again be brought in to keep the city’s lakeshore drainage system working.

“We’ll probably see the pumps being deployed in the next few days but they may not have to be started up right away,” said Alan Newcombe, operations section chief with the EOC and director of infrastructure planning with the City of Kelowna.

There was some question about the availability of the the pumps, given the demand in many other parts of the province. But Newcombe said enough pumps have been sourced from the Lower Mainland to meet local need.

READ MORE: LAKE COULD HIT FULL POOL BY FRIDAY

The huge pumps were brought in during last year’s flooding and used at several spots downtown, near Kelowna General Hospital and in the Mission. One of the large pumps was also used on the Peachland lakeshore last year as well.

While the lake has not yet risen to the heights its reached last spring, Newcombe said it is filling quickly and the EOC and the city want to be prepared.

On Thursday, the EOC said it is advising people living along the lakeshore to prepare for the lake to rise to the same levels reached last spring—343.25 metres—as a precaution. But at this point, it is not expected to surpass that height.

Concerns about wakes from passing boats and high winds causing waves should also be taken into account when flood precautions are being taken, said EOC spokesman Ed Henczel.

He said with the recent hot weather, the lake level has risen quickly is now expected to reach full pool by Friday, much earlier than originally predicted. Last year, at its height, the lake level was 75 centimetres above full pool.

Provincial officials released a great deal of water from the lake through the Penticton dam in a March, April and early May in a bid to bring down the lake level in preparation for more water flowing into its via creeks and streams as a result of heavy snow melt in the surrounding mountains.

But that release was curtailed recently because of flooding problems south of Penticton, particularly around Osoyoos.

As late as two weeks ago, the province was predicting the lake level would only rise to to 40 to 45 centimetres above full full pool.

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