Waterfront properties vulnerable to wind and boat generated wave action

Thursday, June 18, 2020 - 7:30am

Weather patterns this spring have been challenging and unpredictable, resulting in sudden changes to creek, stream and lake levels throughout the Central Okanagan. Forecasts for increasing temperatures and wind activity in the coming days and over the weekend could result in flooding and damage to properties not adequately protected.

“The weather is unpredictable and has already contributed to isolated flooding this season,” said Sandra Follack, Central Okanagan Regional Emergency Program Coordinator. “Property owners need to be vigilant and should actively monitor the weather and act accordingly. Those in low lying areas and particularly those that were impacted in 2018 need to act now to protect their properties.”

“We continue to work with provincial experts to understand the current and potential risks. We know that lake levels are very responsive to rain and additional precipitation in the coming weeks will only contribute to higher lake levels. Combined with any wave action, whether wind or boat generated, the situation is prime for the potential to create significant damage to waterfront property if not protected.”

To protect public infrastructure, local municipalities, districts and communities are installing protective measures in key areas along the shores of area lakes, including several locations on Okanagan Lake foreshore.

Protect your property

Waterfront property owners should take action to protect their structures and properties from flooding and wave damage. This includes securing docks and boats and installing measures to protect against wave action and to prevent erosion. Some tips include:

  • If anchored, make sure the anchor lines are long enough, so they don’t snap if water rises too high;
  • Ensure boats are secured;
  • If you have a pull-up dock, pull it up as high as possible;
  • Secure the dock using sandbags on the edges of the dock;
  • Remove all loose items from the dock, but do not clean any debris from shoreline; and
  • Stay away from fast moving waters.

Boat owners with boats on lifts may choose to remove their boat from the lift and trailer it for safe storage.

To determine whether your property needs flood protection, go to the Flood FAQs section of cordemergency.ca/beprepared. There you will find instructions on how to measure for flood levels and build barriers to the appropriate height to account for both lake level flooding and wave action.

Residents are responsible for protecting their own properties and sandbagging self-serve stations are stocked at several locations throughout the Central Okanagan. Visit each community webpage for detailed location information.

City of Kelowna
City of West Kelowna
District of Lake Country
District of Peachland
Regional District of Central Okanagan
Westbank First Nation

Visit the Province of BC for information about physical distancing and sandbagging.

Boating and debris

Boating on area lakes continues to be permitted, but boaters and those using personal watercraft must keep speeds down, particularly when approaching or travelling near the shore. Boaters should also be on the lookout for floating debris that may have been carried into the area lakes from faster flowing tributaries. Debris washed up on beaches should be left for the time being, as logs and other wood material can help to limit erosion caused by wave action.

A reminder to boaters that the Provincial Health Officer’s guidance on physical distancing also applies on boats, docks and boat launches. For more information and details, visit covid-19.bccdc.ca. Note that some boat launches may be closed for safety reasons. Visit community websites for more information about boat launch locations, which boat launches are open in the area and for community-specific COVID-19 information and measures.

Stay safe around high waters

While creek levels are falling as the water works its way through the system, sudden creek rises and increases to flow can happen quickly. Those living near creeks, streams and low-lying properties that have experienced flooding and high water in the past are responsible for having an emergency plan as well as the tools and equipment to protect properties from possible damage. People and their pets should stay safety back from creek banks, which may be slippery or subject to erosion. Find resources and learn more about creating an emergency preparedness plan at cordemergency.ca/beprepared.

More information

Residents can monitor lake levels for areas historically at risk of lake flooding or wake damage at wateroffice.ec.gc.ca. In the event of an emergency and activation of the Central Okanagan Emergency Operation Centre, find the latest information at cordemergency.ca, on Facebook (@CORDEmergency), Twitter (@CO_Emerg) and through email updates.