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Penticton  

Dam spills, floods road

Chelsea Powrie

The District of Summerland expects spilling from the Garnet Dam every year during melt season, but they didn't expect it this soon.

The dam was spilling over Thursday, causing water and muddy conditions down the access road and Garnet Valley Road. Water levels behind the dam went up another 12 centimetres in the last 24 hours.

All this, and the snow melt hasn't even properly begun.

"The upper dams still have four to five feet of snow in the surrounding area, so we're just monitoring really closely, staff is accessing all the dams to check their levels and opening floodgates as required," said District of Summerland chief administrative officer Linda Tynan.

According to Tynan, additionally culverts have been installed to deal with the spillwater. The district also recently approved a $100,000 bridge upstream of the spillway which will help mitigate the flow. It is currently being manufactured, and is on track to be installed in May despite the high water levels.

"We expect them to start building the abutments at the end of this month, followed by craning in the bridge in place a week or two after that," said Devon van der Meulen, manager of utilities for Summerland.

Van der Muelen expressed concerns about the burned-out areas of the valley, following a forest fire last summer.

"We have yet to see how much impact that has, but there's potential for a burn like that to create a bit of a barrier on the ground and allow more flow," Van der Muelen said.

At the moment, the most visible issue is the road conditions, and a grader has been working Thursday to smooth the mud on the unpaved parts of the road and keep access clear to the dam.

Tynan said that the district is currently working on putting together an information bulletin to distribute to Garnet-area residents updating them on flood mitigation progress and potential threats.

Garnet Valley experienced flooding last spring due to water originating from Garnet Reservoir and a swollen Aeneas Creek.



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