Kelowna prepares for spring flooding

Flood mitigation projects from last year still not completed

Damage from the floods of 2017 has yet to be repaired, but the City of Kelowna still has to forge ahead with flood control preparations for this spring.

Alan Newcombe, infrastructure division manager for the city, told council Monday more than $3 million has been spent already on completed mitigation projects.

Newcombe said the most notable project completed to date is work on Upper Vernon Creek, which saw the removal of 2,600 tonnes of concrete, installation of ore than 8,000 square-metres of channel bed liner, addition of 12,000 tonnes of rock riprap and placement of 9,500 tonnes of native soils.

Other creek channel restoration projects ongoing include gravel removal and erosion mitigation along Bellevue Creek, and vegetation and sediment removal along Mill Creek.

Newcombe said the outcome of the 2017 flooding saw the city submit a list of 52 waterway restoration and mitigation projects last November, at a cost of $10.7 million. The province provides funding for up to 80 per cent of the cost on such projects.

“These projects are being done as funding approvals come forward from the province,” Newcombe said.

The current snowpack conditions within the Central Okanagan are above normal for this time of year, with cool spring conditions allowing the snowpack to still be increasing and for lower elevation snow to not yet disappear.

As a precautionary measure, Newcombe said the city will institute flood prevention measures along Mill Creek that will employ sand bagging, bladder dams, Hesco bins or other similar alternatives.

Sand bags and said will be provided as well to private property owners living near identified high stream flow flooding areas.

Council adopted a resolution to cover the cost of those measures, up to $100,000 from the city’s flood control reserves, as Emergency Management British Columbia branch has not confirmed what flood prevention funding will be made available to communities for high flow risk areas.

“The provincial funding may not be in place yet but we do have to get moving on some of these things as we have a three to four week window to be prepared for potential flooding,” Newcombe said.

Kelowna International Airport has also proposed a $1,063,000 freshet infrastructure recovery program with up to $802,380 of that cost covered under the provincial Disaster Financial Assistance program. The remaining cost would come from airport reserves.

Included within the recovery initiative are drainage and channel reparations, described as urgent in nature and should be completed before this year’s spring freshet flows peak to mitigate potential flooding.

The projects will be focused on Mill Creek and Wagner Creek, at a cost of $446,056, and Scotty Creek, $616,241.

Engineering consultants report that Mill Creek, which flows under the runway and across the airport site, needs repairs for channel bank erosion, sediment aggregation and wood debris blockages.

It was also found that gravels dredged in 2015 from the creek were replaced by sediment during last spring’s flooding.

“Some areas of Mill Creek reached capacity and overflowed on the east side of the airport last spring so the planned removal of sediment and creek debris will help that in the future,” said Shayne Dyrdal, senior airport finance and corporate services manager.

“We are also monitoring the runaway culvert on a daily basis to make sure water is flowing effectively. That was not an issue for us last spring.”

Wagner Creek faces similar issues, while the work proposed for Scotty Creek includes replacement of a bridge located on the Shadow Ridge Golf Course, land owned by the city for future airport expansion, culvert replacements, road work restoration, improving access to sediment traps, and installation of a Gabon basket sediment trap to help negate the need for further dredging.

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@BarryGerding
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