Don’t empty sandbags, removals underway

Friday, July 21, 2017 - 1:15pm

Full flood demobilization efforts continue as 125-member crews conduct sandbag removals along private property in areas in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country no longer under threat of flooding and will be expanding into Peachland and Oyama next week.

To make sure sandbags are recorded for pick up, Emergency Management BC has provided a quick and easy sandbag recovery application, available at www.cordemergency.ca/beprepared/flood-recovery

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 drinking water supply, infrastructure, flood control, navigation and recreational activities.

Location of removals

In Kelowna, local contractors are accessing waterfront properties to accommodate the removals of sandbags along:

  • Watt Road from Miekle Avenue to Lakeshore Road
  • Lakeshore Road from Boyce-Gyro Park to Rotary Park
  • Truswell Road at Cappozzi Road
  • Manhattan Drive

In West Kelowna, sandbag removals are continuing in the Pritchard, Whitworth, Gellatly and Green Bay neighbourhoods.

Schedule of work is expected Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and involves removals occurring in these areas until the end of August.

Motorists, pedestrians and cyclists are to be cautious in busy transfer stations and be mindful of traffic control personnel to ensure the safety of workers.

Notification of sandbag removals 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.

Do-it-yourself sandbag removals

Residents wanting to remove sandbags at their own cost should take precautions while removing sandbags and working around stagnant water. 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.

Residents can continue to support flood recovery efforts by bringing sandbags to the street front for pickup and disposal. Burlap and polypropylene bags should be divided into separate piles at the curb.

Debris removal

Barges operators 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.

A barge operator has started today working along the foreshore in Kelowna’s south Mission area moving north. Barges are continuing north of McKinley Landing and adjacent to Westside Road on both sides of the Okanagan Lake.

Debris removals in Wood Lake and the south end of Kalamalka Lake. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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

Yard-waste type debris can be taken to the Glenmore landfill free in loads up to 250 kilograms and less than 5 centimetres in circumference. Regular tipping fees apply to other loads.

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 of Central Okanagan Yard Waste Program for more information.

Rebuilding of docks

All residents require authorization from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in order to repair or replace damaged docks. More information is available by contacting the FrontCounter BC at 1-877-355-3222 or online.

Local bylaws may apply and residents can contact their local jurisdiction for details.

Levels of the big lakes

The level of Okanagan Lake was recorded as 342.640 m above sea level on July 21, down 3 centimeters from July 18.

The level of Kalamalka Lake was recorded as 391.940 m above sea level on Tuesday, down 2 centimetre since Tuesday.

Although the big lakes are slowly returning to normal levels, boaters are reminded to be mindful of no wake, low wake zones. See map for details.

BC Wildfire crews alone spent roughly 40,000 man hours producing and deploying sandbags. It is estimated that clean-up efforts will take approximately 150% to 200% of the labour required to deploy sandbags.

Regional District Emergency Operations officials appreciate the patience of residents while sandbag removals are being completed.

To sign up for e-updates and for the most up-to-date information about sandbag pick up, drop-off locations and disposal, as well as debris clean up go to www.cordemergency.ca or call the flood recovery phone line at 250-470-0674. The information line will be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

For municipal information about boat launches, parks and beaches, and water quality advisories, visit their websites:

To stay informed about flooding and the recovery efforts, visit www.cordemergency.ca, sign up for e-updates or call the information line at 250-470-0674.