Flood Recovery

2017 Freshet Flood Demobilization News Conference Display Panels

Floodwaters and groundwater in many places in the Central Okanagan are expected to fluctuate, and the threat may not be over until late July. The priority for the Central Okanagan Regional District (CORD) Emergency Operations is to respond to flooding in the best interest of public safety, and ensuring the sustainability of the region through protection of critical infrastructure, vital community services, the environment and the economy.

Demobilization of the region's flood protection measures is underway. It is a priority to ensure flood affected areas are returned to normal as soon as lake levels decrease and private and public properties are no longer at risk.

One of the most important defences for flood protection was the 2 million sandbags filled and distributed throughout the region from Lake Country to Peachland. The question is now what do residents and municipalities do with all of those sandbags? It depends where you live.

Staged demobilization of sandbags

Stage 1. Interim removals (July 5 to mid-July) curbside collection

  • Residents can lower sandbag walls on their property to 60 centimetres (2 feet)
  • Sandbags can be moved to the curbside for pick up
  • Crews will sweep area regularly to remove sandbags

Residents should be careful not to block access to pedestrians or traffic. If there are unique challenges to reposition sandbags curbside, contact the EOC Recovery information line at 250-470-0674.

Stage 2. Full demobilization of sandbags and other flood protection measures (July 18 to end of August)

Got sandbags? We've got an app for that!

Sandbag app

The Emergency Operation Centre in cooperation with Emergency Management BC launched a digital tool that uses crowd sourcing to help inventory the number, location and type the sandbags on private and public property.

Residents are requested to add sandbags to the inventory by visiting the Emergency Management BC application:

  • Make sure you allow the app to access your current location.
  • Click Start
  • Fill in prompt boxes with information including the number, type of sandbags, name, phone number, photos (if desired) and comments. Click the green Next button at the bottom of the question box to see the next question.
  • Complete all questions and click Submit

Personal information added into the app such as the name, phone number and comments will not show publically on the map.

This data will be used for planning and assessment of the demobilization of flood protection measures. As plans are developed information on the removal of sandbags from public and private property including debris management will be posted at www.cordemergency.ca.

A coordinated approach for the collection and disposal of sandbags throughout the Central Okanagan will ensure the safest and most efficient way, minimizing ecological impact to property, creeks, streams, area lakes, wildlife habitat and ensuring the health of citizens.

DIY Sandbag drop off

We appreciate the patience of residents while recovery efforts are coordinated. In the meantime, residents wanting to drop of their own sandbags at their cost can do so at a number of locations. See map for drop-off locations.

Don't empty sandbags in waterways or beaches

Under no circumstances should sandbags be emptied into any creeks, lakes, wetland, beaches or other watercourses as outlined in the Water Sustainability Act. The impact can destroy fish habitat and affect water supply, infrastructure, flood control, navigation and recreational activities. Report violations to Natural Resource at 1 877-952-7277, (Option 2) toll-free or #7277 on a cellphone.

The foreshores of the lakes in the Okanagan are habitat for many endangered or rare species, and any extra sand could seriously affect these ecosystems. Residents are advised to ensure all sandbags are made available for collection and not to redeploy in the future particularly within a riparian area near waterways.

Demobilization of sandbags

Removals of sandbags from private and public property will happen as area lakes recede. Notification will be done in advance to targeted areas through on-street signage and public service announcements.

Residents are encouraged to subscribe to e-Updates to receive notification of when removals will occur in their neighbourhoods.

When can I remove my sandbags?

Sandbag removals will occur in two stages:

Stage 1. Interim removals (July 5 to mid-July) curbside collection

  • Residents can lower sandbag walls on their property to 60 centimetres (2 feet)
  • Sandbags can be moved to the curbside for pick up
  • Crews will sweep area regularly to remove sandbags

Residents should be careful not to block access to pedestrians or traffic. If there are unique challenges to reposition sandbags curbside, contact the EOC Recovery information line at 250-470-0674.

Stage 2. Full demobilization of sandbags and other flood protection measures by crews  (July 18 to end of August)

Notification to targeted areas will be done in advance as much as possible through on-street signage, public service announcements and e-updates.

Can I get reimbursed for removing my own sandbags?

No. Sandbag removals done independently of local authorities are not eligible for reimbursement.

Sandbags used in the flood response should be disposed of according to the local authority's direction. Flood protection measures are only temporary and will be subject to inpection to confirm removals are complete.

Can I empty my sandbags on the beach or waterways?

Under no circumstances should sandbags be emptied on beaches or into any creeks, wetland, beaches or other watercourses as outlined in the Water Sustainability Act. The impact can destroy fish habitat and affect drinking water, infrastructure, flood control, navigation and recreational activities.

Report violations to Natural Resources at 1-877-952-7277, (Option 2) toll-free or #7277 on a mobile phone.

When will you be in my neighbourhood to remove my sandbags?

Notification will be done through on-street signage and public service announcements to provide as much warning possible when crews are expected to complete removals on private property.

Crews are working as quickly as possible to complete removals. We appreciate the cooperation and patience of residents.

What precautions should I take for removing my sandbags?

Proper lifting of sandbags is important to reduce strains and injuries. Wear proper footwear such as rubber boots and gloves and wash your hands often.

Sandbags that have been sitting in water could contain mould. Residents should wear N95 respirators, nitrile gloves and rubber boots while working and should wash hands and clothes well after handling the bags.

Debris, docks and beaches

Debris removal

Debris both natural and unnatural along the lakeshore of Okanagan Lake should remain in place to protect the foreshore from erosion due to wave action. Debris that is "high and dry" along the lakefront can be disposed of in the weekly yard waste collection providing it meets the acceptable size limits. See the Regional District Regional Waste Program for more information.

Debris removal will occur in front of priority areas including public beaches, parks and other public spaces where risk of erosion is minimal

Debris should remain in front of private properties until the lake levels have dropped further, since debris may be offering protection from erosion

Please contact Emergency Operations officials at 250-470-0674 if large floating debris is a hazard impacting flood protection measures such as gabion basket, bladder dam systems and sandbag walls along the foreshore.

Hidden water hazards

Debris from damaged docks including wood, screws, nails and other hazards may be hidden beneath floodwaters. Residents are urged to be cautious around the lakeshore. Crews will be responsible for the removals of debris and other hazards as lake levels decrease on public property.  Contact the local municipality to report any hazards.

For more information on flood preparation and community assistance, visit Flood FAQs.

Lakes, boat launches, beaches and parks

With the hot and sunny Okanagan summers, recreational activities are enjoyed by residents and visitors. With the impacted beaches, parks and the waters of area lakes from localize flooding there a few recommendations to people safe while enjoying the Central Okanagan.

  • Lakes levels are still high and will be for the foreseeable future. Boaters should use caution and minimize speeds close to the shoreline to minimize erosion from waves and watch for floating debris and submerged docks. See the interactive map for no wake and low wake zones and respectful boating guidelines.
  • There are a number of wake-free options to enjoy Okanagan lakes.
  • Boat launches and waterfront parks and boardwalks may be impacted. Contact the local municipality to find out the latest information.

Rebuilding of docks

Citizens are reminded not to remove docks or floating infrastructure that’s blown onto the foreshore until local authorities provide direction. Debris along the foreshore should remain in place to mitigate erosion due to wave action.

If large floating debris becomes a hazard impacting flood protection measures such as gabion basket, bladder dam systems and sandbag walls along the foreshore, notify Emergency Operations officials at 250-470-0674 immediately.

Most local municipalities have no permitting requirements for docks but rely on the provincial licence requirements for docks built on Crown land, along with some additional detail to ensure designs that cross public foreshore maintain public access. Property owners and building contactors will need to refer to the local municipality as regulations will apply.

Please visit the Province of British Columbia's page on How to replace your dock for more informaiton.

Province approval

The province’s Licence of Occupation contains requirements for the permitted length, shape, siting, setbacks and materials of docks. The provincial licence also states the docks, fences and walls must not block pedestrian access between the high water mark and the low water mark. For more information, check out the Province of BC webpage about private moorage.

Enforcement

The province has the power to enforce alterations to structures that do not comply with its Licence of Occupation for Crown land.

All dock, wall, fence repairs or reconstruction below the high-water mark must go through Front Counter BC at 1-877-855-3222. Any illegal or unauthorized activities must be reported to the province Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.

For more information, visit the Ministry of Forestry, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Compliance & Enforcement site at https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hen/nrv/.

My dock is broken, what should I do?

Private, damaged docks or pilings are the responsibility of the dock owner for clean up. Private contractors (e.g. pile driving or barge companies) will clean up these materials for a fee.

The Province has stated that they will assist with cleanup of orphaned docks (and large woody debris or garbage) on public land or foreshore where there is no clear owner. This work would be done with contracted barges and would commence as soon as lake levels have dropped to a safe level. In the mean time docks and debris should be left in place as it may be providing additional protection from waves.

If you choose to remove dock debris on your own, it can be disposed of as garbage at all facilities (Glenmore landfill, Westside Residential Waste Disposal and Recycling Centre and the Traders Cove and North Westside transfer stations) with normal weight/volume charges applying.  For example, at the North Westside and Traders Cove transfer stations customers are restricted to two bags per household per week or equivalent in the case of dock garbage debris.   These two transfer stations are not able to accept large sections of dock garbage debris beyond regular garbage restrictions.

See the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to learn how to replace docks.

Is there any assistance for clean up of debris on private property and what do I do with debris washed up on my property?

Please leave the debris on the foreshore, it will help protect the shore from wave action. The Province will help clean up large woody material, docks (where there is no clear owner) and garbage from public land or the foreshore, but not from private land.

Barges continue to remove unnatural debris from the shores of local lakes including unclaimed broken docks, unregistered boats, garbage and barrels, along with large trees or stumps. Damaged docks and pilings still in place are the responsibility of the property owner.

Any debris that residents do not want removed should be clearly marked with “Do Not Remove”, so crews know to leave it behind. This may include sections of dock residents are hoping to repair. If possible, use fluorescent orange flagging tape or paint.

Small woody debris on private property is the responsibility of residents. It can disposed of as yard waste and put into the curbside yard waste bin providing it meets acceptable size limits under the program.

Yard-waste type debris may also be taken to the Glenmore landfill free in loads up to 250 kilograms and less than 5 centimetres in circumference. 

  • Loads over 250 kilograms are assessed at $40.00 per metric tonne fee for disposal.
  • Prunings over 5 centimetres in circumference and less than 20 centimetres in diameter, are charged at $10.00 per metric tonne
  • Logs, limbs and branches greater than 20 centimetres in diameter are accepted at $10.00 per metric tonne. Logs, limbs and branches must be cut to a maximum length of 4 feet (no rocks or soil).
  • Regular tipping fees apply for larger diameter debris or garbage in excess of the 250 kilogram maximum.

Yard-waste sized debris may also be taken to:

  • The Westside Residential Waste Disposal and Recycling Centre on Asquith Road in West Kelowna. Regular yard waste disposal charge applies.
  • The transfer stations at Traders Cove and North Westside with a maximum load of 250 kilograms, 10 bags or one pick-up truck load.

See the Regional District Regional Yard Waste Program for more information https://www.regionaldistrict.com/your-services/waste-reduction-office/yard-waste.aspx

I have spotted debris in the middle of the lake, should I report it?

The province will not be picking up debris until it has washed up on the shore.

Is there a charge at the landfill for woody debris?
  1. There is no charge for the disposal of yard waste totaling less than 250 kgs.

  2. Yard trimmings include grass clippings, leaves, hedge clippings, flowers, vegetable stalks, fruit and vegetable waste and twigs less than 5 cm in circumference.  Loads over 250 kgs are assessed at $40.00 per metric tonne fee for disposal.

  3. Prunings over 5 cm in circumference and less than 20 cm (8") in diameter, with or without leaves or needles attached, are charged at $10.00 per metric tonne.

  4. Logs, limbs and branches greater than 20 cm in diameter are accepted at $10.00 per metric tonne.  Logs, limbs and branches must be cut to a maximum length of 4 feet.  (No rocks or soil.)

  5. Stumps cut at ground level, with rocks and soil removed from roots are accepted at $65.00 per metric tonne.

  6. Mixed loads will be charged based upon the highest cost material in the load and assessed at an extra $50.00 per metric tonne handling/sorting fee.

See the Glenmore Regional Landfill for further information.

Is the water safe for swimming?

Interior Health regularly tests major swimming beaches for beach water quality, in partnership with local governments. Test results are available online at Interior Health. At the current time (July 12,2017) all test results are within acceptable levels.

However, be aware that many beaches are still closed to the public due to protective works, or hazardous materials (e.g. debris).  Also be aware there may be hazards due to floating debris in the water.

Check with your local government for a list of sites that are open for swimming.

What are the conditions like for boating?

Lakes levels are still higher than normal. Boaters should use caution and minimize speeds close to the shoreline to minimize erosion from waves and watch for floating debris and submerged docks.

Visit cordemergency.map to for the the most up to date boating wake map guidelines.

There are a number of wake-free options to enjoy Okanagan lakes.

Boat launches and waterfront parks and boardwalks may be impacted. Contact the local municipality to find out the latest information.

Returning home after a flood

Disaster Financial Assistance

The BC Government announced that Disaster Financial Assistance is available to Central Okanagan residents affected by the recent flooding.  Applications must be submitted by Aug. 5 to Emergency Management BC and are available online at www.gov.bc.ca/disasterfinancialassistance.

For more information phone 1-888-257-4777 (toll-free), or email DFA@gov.bc.ca.

Information on Flood Preparedness and Returning After a Flood

The Preparedness BC website has information to help those property owners with protecting their property from flooding and some considerations for those returning after a flood. 

Interior Health also has information available for residents to consider Before, During and After a flood.

Information on flooding and electrical safety is also available for BC Hydro and FortisBC (electrical and natural gas) customers: www.bchydro.com and www.fortisbc.com.