Flood response 'appropriate'

An independent review of last spring's historic flooding across the Southern Interior has concluded decisions made at the Penticton dam and throughout the Okanagan Lake Regulation System were appropriate and operationally sound.

The report, released Wednesday, concludes a wetter-than-average spring, combined with unusual weather conditions the previous fall and winter, were the primary drivers behind severe flooding.

Levels of Okanagan and Kalamalka lakes reached historic heights as communities and landowners scrambled to protect homes, property and infrastructure from the rising waters.

Hundreds were forced to evacuate, while millions of dollars in damage was reported on both public and private property.

The review looked at operational management of the government-operated Okanagan Lake Regulation System and Nicola dam, and included an extensive analysis of the information, data and models used to make decisions on both systems.

"High inflows to Okanagan Lake, Kalamalka Lake and Nicola Lake in the spring of 2017 were part of a general pattern of high flows in creeks and rivers in this area of B.C. that resulted in widespread flooding due to high lake levels, a high groundwater table and high streamflows," the report states.

The report contains 65 recommendations centered around staffing levels, experience and training and streamflow forecasting models.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development says some of the recommendations are already being implemented, while an action plan to address remaining recommendations is being developed.

The report corroborates a series of emails sent between the ministry, federal fisheries and the Okanagan Nation Alliance in April.

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