A shot of the damage from the Testalinden Creek dam failure in 2010, which sent a torrent of water, mud and debris into a community and farming area south of Oliver. Photo courtesy Province of B.C.

Province has no worries about South Okanagan dam breaches

Despite early issues with area dams, officials not worried about a 2010 Testalinden dam breach repeat

Provincial officials say they have few fears of a repeat of the 2010 Testalinden Creek dam failure, as water levels continue to rise in the South Okanagan.

Officials with Emergency Management B.C., including Jennifer Rice, B.C.’s parliamentary secretary of emergency preparedness, were in the South Okanagan Wednesday to tour flooding in the region.

They also visited the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen’s new, expanded emergency operations centre set up next door to the RDOS building with a bit of rent help from the province.

Related: Water levels rising across South Okanagan and Similkameen

In 2010, a privately owned, man-made earthen dam along the Testalinden Creek failed, causing “an enormous debris and mud torrent that severely impacted a number of homes and an agricultural area,” according to a B.C. government review of the incident.

In that review, conducted by the Ministry of the Solicitor General, the author noted an apparently broken game of telephone prior to the dam’s breach. According to the review, a hiker reported overflowing at the dam to an Osoyoos tourism booth, which called a non-emergency line for local RCMP, who called a Ministry of Forests and Range office in Vernon, where an official called and left a message with a ministry enforcement officer.

Related: Owner of breached Testalinden Dam denied responsibility

That voicemail was not received until after the dam breached. When it was received, mislabelling of roads and no reference to dam stability issues meant the call “was not described as an urgent priority.”

As well, the review noted a “consistent pattern of concerns and warnings issued by … agencies with responsibility for the Water Act to make needed repairs to the structure to maintain its integrity.”

But despite those warnings, the report said there was no indication of any repairs, nor any accountability for repairs from the provincial government.

Related: Kearns Creek dam near Willowbrook reaches capacity

After concerns earlier this spring about the Kearns Creek dam, which was unable to offload water as fast as it was coming in, an official with Emergency Management B.C. said he was not concerned about a potential failure of any of the region’s private dams.

“Our program has been very significantly upgraded since that time. We’ve put in a lot of improvements. We are monitoring a lot more than we have in the past,” said Mike Noseworthy, senior dam safety engineer with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

“In this particular flood situation, we had a number of dams that we were looking at very closely, ensuring that they remained safe, and I think that all of those dams are in good shape.”

Related: Dam level reduction in South Okanagan area

As flooding continued to build up in the region, the RDOS and provincial ministries have worked to mitigate risks to the dams by pumping water out and reducing the manmade lakes’ levels.

Further downstream, where water is continuing to build up and 16 homes have been evacuated, RDOS officials said they are similarly keeping an eye on Highway 97 at the junction with Sportsmens Bowl Road.

“We’re monitoring it constantly. We’re watching the water levels, we’re working with the various ministries. … They updated some culverts in the area,” Mark Woods with the RDOS emergency operations centre said. “Those are working very well, so we’re watching those closely through our contract experts, as well.”

Related: Rural Oliver man hopes for Highway 97 culvert relief

Report a typo or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

Send Dustin an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Apple Triathalon cancelled in Kelowna due to smoke

The event has been cancelled for Saturday

Okanagan air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Kelowna - Avoid strenuous exercise outside today

People sent to hospital after three-vehicle accident in Lake Country

The incident occurred around 9 p.m. Friday night

Vegan-friendly cafe opens in Lake Country

The Salty Caramel Kitchen opened last month in Okanagan Centre

Bizet’s Carmen seduces Kelowna with a weekend of opera

Kelowna Opera re-imagines the opera classic for their summer performance

Armed Troops in Okanagan to help firefighters

Canadian Armed Forces arrived in Vernon Thursday, being deployed to West Kelowna fire

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Vehicle accident closes highway near Enderby

Highway 97A is expected to reopen at 10 a.m.

Thousands to attend funeral service for officers killed in Fredericton shooting

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

VIDEO: Ground crews keep a close eye on largest B.C. wildfire

Originally estimated to be 79,192 hectares, officials said more accurate mapping shows smaller size

Vancouver Island woman to attempt historic swim across Juan de Fuca Strait today

Ultra-marathon swimmer Susan Simmons to attempt to swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back

Evacuation alert issued due to wildfire near Princeton

The RDOS has issued alerts for properties in the electoral areas

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada paid for study to understand Canadian attitudes

These are the highest-paid actresses of 2018

In its list released this week Forbes said all 10 earned a total of $186 million before tax

Most Read