Friday, 3 Feb 2023

Summerland discusses flood mitigation work following property damage in spring

The Garnet Dam near Summerland was prepared for spring runoff but the extreme snowpack in the watersheds around the Okanagan town came down faster than anticipated, according to district officials.

Information about the 250 per cent-of-normal watershed snowpack and other anomalies of the flooding event were shared with dozens of Summerland residents during a meeting on Wednesday night.

The gathering was the second held for property owners affected by Eneas Creek flooding in the spring and was also attended by representatives for the District of Summerland, Emergency Management BC and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development.

“Once we’re spilling, that’s when we lose control of the flow in that creek and we’re unable to regulate it and control it,” Summerland works and utilities director Kris Johnson said.

“That’s where we see the increased flows and the lowland flooding that was occurring.”

The next steps for district staff and contractors helping Summerland plan for flooding more effectively is to look at channel capacity leading into Eneas Creek to determine “what’s existing there and what proper design capacity should be,” he said.

“We’ve had two and three years of fairly high snowpacks, fairly wet conditions in the fall and very high groundwater levels,” senior regional dam safety officer Mike Noseworthy said.

“These are all leading to conditions in the spring that are not typical.”

“That’s why the District is having difficulties controlling some of the flows,” Noseworthy added.

Residents were concerned that wildfire erosion from the Mount Eneas wildfire would put their community further at risk in 2019.

There will be a slight increase in drainage from the fire-scorched land above Summerland but the amounts would be immeasurable, according to Tim Giles, a geomorphology specialist with the province.

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