Receding Okanagan Lake will reveal final bill from 2018 flood damage in Kelowna - InfoNews

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Receding Okanagan Lake will reveal final bill from 2018 flood damage in Kelowna

Work crews remove trees and vegetation along Mill Creek in Kelowna, May 2, 2018.
July 17, 2018 - 3:14 PM

KELOWNA - What a difference 57 centimetres makes.

That’s the difference between the final lake level in 2017 — 343.25 metres — and the 342.68 metres Okanagan Lake topped out at this year.

It also represents the difference in the scale of damage to City of Kelowna public infrastructure — last year saw over $10 million damage to such things drainage canals, storm sewers, roads and walkways.

“There certainly has been some damage but nothing on the scale of last year,” director of infrastructure Alan Newcombe said. “We haven’t finished inspecting yet but maybe 10 per cent of what we saw last year.”

Okanagan Lake is still dropping after peaking in June but it will be August or September when final estimates of damage will be made, Newcombe said.

While there were some similarities, the two flood seasons themselves were distinct, he added, with a snowpack that approached 200 per cent of normal being the primary culprit in 2018.

“Last year it was primarily the lake elevation that caused the problems but this year it was the high sustained flow of all the creeks in the city,” Newcombe said. “There will be some issues along the waterfront, I assume, when the water recedes.”

Helping mitigate the damage this year were the lessons learned from last year’s 1-in-200 year record flood, he added.

“We were way better prepared. We did all the work along the creeks ahead of time,” he said. “Last year also gave us good indications of the trouble spots.”

The city this year was issued the environmental permits necessary to dredge portions of Mill Creek and cut back years of overgrowth along its banks, both which contributed to the severity of the flooding along the creek last year.

That work will continue into 2019 but Newcombe said the city has approached the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources about what it would take to continue a regular maintenance program on all the city’s creeks so their capacity doesn’t drop.

“These creeks aren’t hard infrastructure but nonetheless, it is one of the main methods of conveying storm water and snow melt through the city,” he said.

When the final tally is known, the city will likely be able to recover some of the costs through the Emergency Management B.C.


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