Okanagan Lake nearing full pool

Thursday, July 27, 2017 - 11:19am

After historic high water levels of 343.250m above sea level were reached on June 8, the lake level in Okanagan Lake is expected to be nearing full pool measuring at 342.48m by this weekend. Today it is measuring at 342.539m above sea level.

As area big lakes dip to typical peak water levels and water tables normalize, the threat of flooding which began on May 5 is passing for the time being.

Next steps will see local jurisdictions assess the impact of erosion to public property once receding waters uncover what it’s been hiding for nearly two months. The complete cost of flood damage will not be known for some time.

Thumbs up for boating

This milestone also marks the “thumbs up” for regular boating and beach activities to resume. Local jurisdictions extend their appreciation to residents and visitors for respecting the no wake, low wake guidelines to reduce erosion to public infrastructure, parks, beaches and residences.

Boaters should remain vigilant and keep speeds down near shorelines and watch for floating debris as nearly 1,000 to 1,500 docks have sustained some level of damage in addition to higher than normal volumes of natural debris.

Check with local municipalities for available boat launches and conditions of waterfront parks.

Sandbag removals continue

The first sweep of sandbag removals is anticipated to be completed by Friday, August 4 by crews along private property in areas in Peachland, Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country.

Sandbag removals will begin on Westside Road starting Monday, July 31.

In West Kelowna, crews are continuing removals in Casa Loma, Pritchard, Whitworth, Gellatly and Greenbay neighbourhoods.

To keep crews safe, lakeshore property owners with sandbags on docks are requested to relocate the sandbags to higher ground for collection.

Deadline to register sandbags, August 8

To ensure all sandbags are picked up, a quick and easy sandbag recovery application is available at www.cordemergency.ca/beprepared/flood-recovery provided by Emergency Management BC.

Residents who have sandbags are asked to notify officials through this application before August 8 or contact the flood recovery information line at 250-470-0674. Sandbags remaining on private property not registered with officials will be the responsibility of property owners and removed at their own cost.

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.

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 pick up and disposal. Burlap and polypropylene bags should be divided into separate piles at the curb.

Debris removal

Barges will continue to remove unnatural debris well into August 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.

Barge crews are currently working north of the W.R. Bennett Bridge on the east side of the lake. Once completed they will move across to the west side of the lake moving south towards the bridge. Work is continuing in the Mission neighbourhood in Kelowna.

Debris and dock removals are anticipated to be completed by the end of August.

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.

2017 Flood Facts at-a-glance

  • BC Wildfire crews 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
  • Sandbags weigh anywhere from 40 to 70 lbs each and are heavier when wet
  • 22 Evacuation Orders and 15 Evacuation Alerts
  • 5.1 km of bladder systems place
  • 1.3 km of gabion baskets
  • 138 information updates
  • 12 local contractor consisting of 140-member crews and 12 local equipment contactors tasked with cleaning up communities
  • 4 barge contractors

West Kelowna residents that may have equipment from the local municipality such as hoses, sump pumps and hand tools are requested to drop them off at the nearest Fire Station.

Regional District Emergency Operations officials appreciate the patience of residents during the flood response and the continued efforts of demobilization of flood protection removals. The State of Emergency will end once the demobilization efforts are complete.

To sign up for e-updates and for the most up-to-date information about sandbag pick up, drop-off locations and 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: