At mercy of the weather

Alanna Kelly

Residents living near Okanagan Lake should be prepared to protect their homes.

Dam manager Shaun Reimer says residents should bring up protection barriers to half a metre higher than full pool, or 343 metres above sea level.

“That is probably when the lake will peak. Similar to what we saw last year, the lake peaked at about June 9,” he said.

Currently, the lake is six centimetres below full pool and is expected to hit that mark on Friday.

“I am not necessarily saying we are going to reach that 343 elevation, but I think it is very prudent that people who were flooded, local governments, plan for that in regards to where they want to put their flood protection measures,” said Reimer.

The lake is rising by five centimetres a day, but he's optimistic it will slow down.

“We are 32 cm below where we were for the same date last year,” he said. “But I do expect that by tomorrow we will have hit full pool annual target.”

Reimer said we are at the mercy of the weather. Where we get to depends on how quick the water is coming into the lake and if it overwhelms the ability of the dam to let it out.

“Because of this hot weather, in some ways historic heat wave and enhanced snow melt, the water is coming into Okanagan lake even faster than it did last year,” he said.

Currently, there are 4,500 people on evacuation order and another 7,100 on evacuation alert across B.C.

The province has delivered more than 3,000,000 sandbags and nine sandbag machines, 3.5 km of gabion dams and 13.5 km of bladder dams.

“Top priority is public safety,” he said. “Keeping clear of eroded banks and moving water, keeping children and pets away from those conditions."

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