Kelowna civic officials very aware of huge snowpack in surrounding mountains - InfoNews

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Kelowna civic officials very aware of huge snowpack in surrounding mountains

FILE PHOTO - Square baskets filled with sand are set up at Lake Avenue Beach Access on May 16, 2017. Nervous might be the wrong word, but Kelowna civic officials are well aware of the overly-large snowpack sitting the moutains around them as we head toward spring this year.
February 08, 2018 - 8:30 PM

KELOWNA - Nervous might be the wrong word, but Kelowna civic officials are well aware of the overly-large snowpack sitting the mountains around them.

“If the question is, after the flooding that happened in 2017, are you concerned and are you looking at the possibility of it happening again? You bet it’s crossed our minds and you bet we’ve discussed it,” risk manager Lance Kayfish said.

The B.C. River Forecast Centre yesterday released it’s monthly snow survey showing snowpacks in the Okanagan and Similkameen regions sitting well above normal for this time of year at 131 percent and 135 per cent respectively.

While the forecast centre raises the possibility of spring flooding in 2018, Kayfish says nobody is panicking just yet because the city has also seen large snowpack numbers like this before only to have them change as spring unfolded.

However Kayfish said the heightened possibility of an active flood season has put new urgency under the $5 million restoration of a drainage flume on Vernon Creek in Kelowna’s northern end.

Both Lake Country and Kelowna suffered flood damage to houses along rain-swollen creeks.

The city sustained over $10 million damage to infrastructure during the 2017 floods, part of widespread damage to docks and infrastructure all around Okanagan Lake when water levels peaked far above the previous high-water mark.

Almost $6 million is being spent “naturalizing” and lining the Vernon Creek channel, Kayfish added, which had its capacity severely reduced by run-off material from the flood.

Lining the creek reduces groundwater absorption and returning the creek to a more natural course reduces the speed and severity of floods while also restoring it as a fish-bearing creek, Kayfish added.

Kayfish said the most recent progress report shows the creek repair and rehabilitation should be completed well before May, which is when last year’s floods began.

Read more spring 2017 flood stories.


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