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Runoff causing water woes for Naramata residents

Lyle Armour arrived home in March after a holiday to find part of his retaining wall collapsed and a small creek running through his backyard.
April 27, 2017 - 8:00 PM

PENTICTON - New watercourses in the hills above Naramata are causing headaches for homeowners below the Kettle Valley Rail Trail grade.

Several residents are seeing problems with water runoff this spring and are finding themselves frustrated in their efforts to find a governing body willing to assist them.

Winifred Road resident Lyle Armour returned from a vacation March 19, relieved to find his driveway free of snow, but a surprise awaited him when he went to the back of his property — a five foot high retaining wall had collapsed near his back door, and a small stream was making its way across his property.

Armour’s backyard backs against the Kettle Valley Rail Trail right of way.

“Water appears to be coming off the KVR and running into my property,” Armour says, adding he dug a small ditch to divert the water through a vacant lot next door.

“I’ve lived here for 14 years, and never seen this before. It hasn’t stopped in a month,” he says, watching a steady stream make its way across a portion of his property.

Armour’s neighbour, downstream of the vacant lot, was affected by the moisture earlier last week when a portion of his bank also collapsed, and several doors further down another neighbour noticed water flowing down his driveway for the first time on Thursday, April 20.

Armour's neighbour's property to the south and downstream recently had part of the bank collapse.
Armour's neighbour's property to the south and downstream recently had part of the bank collapse.

The water appears on the surface of the KVR right of way around 100 metres upstream of Armour’s property. From there it appears to come down from the hillside where the Outlook subdivision is being built. A lot of rock has been blasted in order to create building lots out of the hillside.

“It’s not an exceptionally wet year. I feel something’s changed. This has been flowing steadily for a month, and for that much water to be runoff, I’d expect the snowpack to have been much greater,” Armour says, adding the regional district has responded “somewhat” to his calls for assistance.

“What’s really grating for most of us is no one is taking responsibility. Maybe that’s the wrong word. Who do you go to, to point out this is happening?” he asks.

Armour suspects the development above him may have something to do with the water flow. He says he’s spoken to the developer, who he says has been "straight up" with him.

“He doesn’t feel it’s coming from there. I don’t blame him, from a business point of view,” Armour says.

Water flows freely down a section of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail above and upstream of Armour's property, something he's never seen before.
Water flows freely down a section of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail above and upstream of Armour's property, something he's never seen before.

Naramata Director Karla Kozakevich says the issue is not just affecting Armour and his neighbours.

Further downslope to the south and further away from the KVR grade she knows of a homeowner on Gawne Road facing a worse situation.

“HIs whole basement has been flooded for the past two weeks and he’s had two pumps going constantly. His bank is eroding and he’s well below the KVR,” says Kozakevich, adding she is trying to help, but water damage to property is not a regional district issue.

Kozakevich says she has heard the long, cold winter has resulted in frozen ground that has been slow to thaw, resulting in water pooling on the ground or staying just below ground for a longer period than normal.

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen subdivision supervisor Stephen Juch says a number of Naramata residents have called the regional district with concerns about water levels this year. The district had an engineer on site earlier this week from Crown lands, looking at groundwater issues.

He says a report on the issues is forthcoming, but the general consensus is the water is naturally sourced at this point.

“It would be very difficult to tell if the developments have caused any impacts to the groundwater,” he said, noting the Outlook’s hole full of water has water coming into rather than pooling and flowing away.

“Unfortunately, the perception is the developments are impacting the groundwater situation along the KVR and the properties, but at this time, the engineers are thinking it’s a naturally occurring process.

“The water is going to come out of the ground at points of least resistance,” Juch says, adding the additional rain that’s fallen this month hasn’t helped. He says a drying out period is needed to reduce the flow.

He noted part of the Kettle Ridge subdivision’s drainage program involves ditching along the KVR right of way, which is currently underway.

Juch says regional district staff will continue to monitor the runoff.

Further downstream from Armour's property, a neighbour began seeing water flow down his driveway only a few days ago.
Further downstream from Armour's property, a neighbour began seeing water flow down his driveway only a few days ago.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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