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The end of Flood Watch 2017 is finally near

Crews are currently working around the Central Okanagan to remove debris that was washed up during the flooding.
July 27, 2017 - 6:00 PM

KELOWNA - It’s been almost three months since flooding began in the Okanagan Valley and Okanagan Lake is finally just centimetres from reaching full pool.

As of today, July 27, Okanagan Lake is at 342.539 metres above sea level, 5.9 centimetres above full pool.

In a Central Okanagan Emergency Operations press release, officials say they expect the lake’s level to get back to full pool this weekend.

This means boating is finally getting the official thumbs up but officials are still telling boaters to respect no wake and low wake guidelines when close to shore.

According to the release, nearly 1,000 to 1,500 docks were damaged during the flooding.

All residents require authorization from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to repair or replace damaged docks, according to the release. More information is available by contacting the FrontCounter B.C. at 1-877-355-3222.

At the height of the flooding, Okanagan Lake measured 343.250 metres above sea level, measured on June 8.

“Next steps will see local jurisdictions assess the impact of erosion to public property once receding waters uncover what it’s been hiding for nearly two months,” Central Okanagan Emergency Operations said in the release. “The complete cost of flood damage will not be known for some time.”

However, at the beginning of July, Kelowna city manager and Emergency Operation lead Ron Mattiussi said the costs were roughly $12 million, at that time.

Wildfire crews spent roughly 40,000 hours making and deploying sandbags in the Central Okanagan.

Right now, local contractors are working to remove those sandbags in Peachland, West Kelowna, Kelowna and Lake Country, and scheduled to finish their first round of pick-ups by Friday, Aug. 4. 

Property owners are being asked to relocate any sandbags to the roadside for collection, and to separate the sandbags into burlap and polypropylene piles.

The deadline to register your sandbags for pickup is Aug. 8. Any remaining sandbags will be up to residents to remove themselves.

Under no circumstance should sandbags be emptied onto beaches, or into creeks or near any body of water, according to the Water Sustainability Act, as contamination can destroy animal habitat and ecosystems.

“Sandbags that have been sitting in water could contain mould,” says the release. “Residents should wear N95 respirators, nitrile gloves and rubber boots while working and should wash hands and clothes well after handling the bags.”

The sand from the sandbags is being returned to gravel pits around the valley, according to Kari O’Rourke with the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations. Municipalities are expected to use the sand for winter maintenance.

Currently there are 12 local contractors, consisting of 140-member crews helping to clean up debris in the Central Okanagan. Additionally, four barge contractors are stationed on Okanagan Lake.

All debris and dock removal is expected to be completed by the end of August.

Any debris residents don’t want removed should be clearly labeled. However damaged docks and pilings in place will remain the responsibility of the property owner.

During the course of the flooding, 5.1 kilometres of bladder systems were put in place, and 1.3 kilometres of gabion baskets. There were 22 evacuation orders and 138 information updates released by the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Hickman or call 250-808-0143 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 © iNFOnews, 2017

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