Okanagan Lake drawdown continues in anticipation of strong freshet | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan Lake drawdown continues in anticipation of strong freshet

FILE PHOTO- Flood preparations were in place in Penticton in May, 2018, in spite of an aggressive drawdown of the lake in March of that year in anticipation of high water levels caused by a higher than normal snowpack.
March 12, 2020 - 5:00 PM

Provincial officials are opening the flood gates in anticipation of a strong spring freshet after receiving the latest figures from the B.C. River Forecast Centre earlier this week.

The latest data regarding local snowpack levels shows some areas higher than they've been in 20 years. 

Shaun Reimer is the Ministry of Lands, Forests official responsible for controlling the level of Okanagan Lake to ensure it doesn't flood. He says his department continues to be aggressive in drawing down water levels in the lake through Okanagan Lake dam at the north end of the Penticton river channel, based on the inflow information and forecast received.

“We’re pretty much on target with where we want to be. We’ll be drawing down the lake for the next few weeks and positioning ourselves for some flexibility,” he says.

How high the lake rises will largely depend on the weather over the next few months.

“It’s always the tricky bit, predicting how much rain we are going to get,” he says. “In the coming weeks, residents are going to see sandbars and low lake levels much like in March, 2018.”

In 2018, the lake was drawn down to 17 centimetres below full pool, dropping a half centimetre daily by mid-March, but even at that rate, the lake rose to threatening levels before waters began receding in May.

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