Spring flooding in the Central Okanagan still a guess, not a given - InfoNews

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Spring flooding in the Central Okanagan still a guess, not a given

A washout has closed Lower Glenrosa Road between Glencoe Road and Glenway Road in West Kelowna, Friday, March 23, 2018.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/City of West Kelowna
March 29, 2018 - 5:00 PM

KELOWNA - With reports of overland flooding different parts of the Central Okanagan and above normal snow pack, some apprehension is understandable but Kelowna’s director of infrastructure says history shows a huge snow pack in the surrounding hills does not guarantee spring flooding.

“We’re watching it but so many factors come into play,” Alan Newcombe said. “There’s groundwater, how wet the ground is, daytime temperature and overnight lows, how much rain we get and when we get it.”

Newcombe blames some of the recent flooding on the low elevation snow melt combined with last week’s heavy rain but says even that isn’t reason for alarm and is certainly not an indication that Okanagan Lake will again overflow.

“I know West Kelowna is making sandbags available. We don’t want people to over-react, particularly on the lakefront,” Newcombe said. "We want people to be diligent and if you’ve had flooding in the past, then you definitely want to start thinking about it but it’s still early, especially for people on the lake. That’s two months away, if it happens at all.”

Newcombe said crews have been working to restore capacity to Mill Creek and Bellevue Creek by reducing silt, gravel and vegetation and that a tunnel that diverts water from Mill Creek to Mission Creek has been opened. Businesses and homes near the creek were particularly hard hit last spring.

A $5-million restoration to a channel on Vernon Creek was completed last week. It was destroyed during last year’s flooding and was the single biggest cost to Kelowna from the 2017 flooding.

Meanwhile, roadways supervisor Stephen Bryans says groundwater is also the suspect behind an unstable hillside on the south flank of Knox Mountain that has forced Knox Mountain Metals to close the end of their workyard on Bay Avenue.

Bryans said a geo-technical crew is monitoring a large crack in the slope, which became noticably larger in the last week. They have been unable to find the source of the water, he added, and will have to wait for the slope to dry out before attempting repairs.

While he couldn’t say for sure, Bryans said he thinks the city will eventually have to stabilize the slope much the way they did in the early 2000s when the hillside above Trench Place began to collapse.

Two houses had to be demolished and Bryans said the city had to cut the slope away and rebuild it with concrete blocks before covering and reseeding it.

A few years before that, Bryans said Knox Mountain Metals was again victim of a small slide when a slope gave way.

“We’ve had problems all the way along there over the years,” he added.

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