April 22, 2016 - 10:30 AM
KELOWNA - Mission Creek’s newly created floodplain is already doing what it was supposed to do, diverting high water during the spring freshet.
Unseasonably high and overnight low temperatures in the last week have sent water surging down Mission Creek and project engineer Don Dobson says high water has already cut a channel through the new floodplain and back into the main creek.
He’s been involved in some similar projects on the Okanagan River but says pulling back dikes to restore natural function are still relatively rare.
“It’s pretty exciting to see it in action, to actually see the natural functions of the stream,” he adds.
Dobson expects the first peak flow of Mission Creek tonight, April 22, with more peaks coming in the next month as the melting upland snow packs continue to feed the spring freshet.
The Mission Creek Restoration Initiative cut down the existing dikes on one hectare of land aquired through land assembly and then constructed 570 metres of new dikes around it, widening the channel from 40 m to 150 m in that section of the creek. The project has multiple partners including the provincial government and the City of Kelowna and first began planning in 2002.
Extensive farming in the area during the last century saw the lower portion of Mission Creek shortened from over 30 kilometres of multiple highwater channels reduced to12 km with one main channel, speeding up creek flow and destroying fish habitat.
“When there was wide distribution through multiple channels, there was much more capacity and the damage from a flood was typically less,” Dobson says.
Restoration work on the floodplain will continue this summer when high waters have receded, he says.
Find more stories on Mission Creek Restoration Initiative here
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