Okanagan’s high snowpack cause for concern as flood season approaches

Residents of the Okanagan know all too well what the spring melt can bring. Flooding season is rapidly approaching and this year might be wetter than usual.

This year’s snowpack is 29 per cent above average, which raises some concerns for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Developments.

“What’s happening is the possibility and probability of flooding get higher.”

The ministry says an even more alarming statistic is how much new water is projected to enter the lakes and rivers in the Okanagan, in the coming spring and early summer.

“That number ended up being 760 million cubic litres and it’s 148 per cent of what we would normally expect at that time,” said Reimer.

Staff at the Penticton Dam started their preparations this week for the anticipated influx of water. 

They’ve begun to lower Okanagan Lake’s water level.

“We had to be a bit more aggressive, we raised the flows this week above that fisheries threshold,” said Reimer, “which means we could be impacting fish eggs.”

However, the ministry of forest and lands say the preparation for the inevitable rise in water levels outweighs the possible impact to fish in the Okanagan river.

When comparing this year to the 2017 flood, the ministry says there are differences that may help mitigate flooding.

Reimer told Global News on Friday, they are optimistic their mitigation efforts will prevent a repeat of 2017.

“The difference here is that we can see it coming, we see the large snowpack developing and it gives us the opportunity to make room in the lake.”

Source: Read Full Article