High water forces Penticton channel float operator to temporarily shut down - InfoNews

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High water forces Penticton channel float operator to temporarily shut down

FILE PHOTO- Channel float operator Coyote Cruises has temporarily halted their business on the Okanagan river channel due to high water and fast current in the channel this year.
July 03, 2020 - 11:40 AM

Not even a week into the season, channel float operator Coyote Cruises has temporarily shut down their operations.

The channel float operator began operating daily on June 27, but cited the high, fast flowing water conditions of the Penticton river channel as the main reason for the shutdown, which Coyote Cruises spokesperson Mike Campol says hopes will only last a week.

"The water levels are well above normal, creating some challenges with the speed of the channel,” he says.

A meeting with Okanagan Lake dam operator Shaun Reimer revealed the lake level is presently 50 cm above full pool, with an expectation it will take a month to bring levels back to normal. 

The channel is currently at full capacity taking water from Okanagan Lake.

“Just looking at that, and realizing we have to take different precautions, especially at the mid and end points, we thought it made sense to shut it down for a week, retrain and regroup and come up with some ideas how to mitigate some of those challenges at those points,” Campol says.

Several people floated past the exit point into the lake which resulted in them having to be rescued over the past week. Campol says he’s not sure whether they were Coyote Cruises customers, but the point is irrelevant.

Campol says it normally takes around three hours to make a complete trip down the channel, but this week floaters were completing the run in under two hours.

He says his company ensures people are aware of the dangers created by the fast current, and doesn’t allow tubes or rafts to be tied together, but can’t speak for independent channel users.

READ MORE: Officials weigh in on dangers of channel floating in high, fast water after man drowns

He says he hopes to work with the city to develop some safety plans and help mitigate the costs involved.

“We seem to be taking on all the safety measures, when we only capture around 17 per cent of the total number of channel floaters. We’re hoping the city will step up and help us with some of the solutions,” Campol says.

Coyote Cruises expects to be back in operation next week, but Campol says they will be monitoring current and lake levels to ensure conditions are safer before reopening.

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