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Penticton  

Lake pumped down mtn.

More water, more problems for the South Okanagan.

Green Lake, just outside OK Falls, is getting dangerously high and the provincial government has ordered the RDOS hire a contractor to pump down the water level.

The water is being sent down a rocky drop to the Okanagan River Channel north of Vaseux Lake, a distance of 1.4 kilometres with an elevation difference of 180 metres.

RDOS information officer Zoe Kirk explains Green Lake is a kettle lake with no natural outflow. Typically, it would be the provincial government's jurisdiction.

“In this case they have asked us to take the lead, because of the length of time and the logistics required,” she said Friday.

The contractor hired for the job normally acts in a supporting role for the BC Wildfire Service, so is well equipped with plenty of hose to move the water down the hill in a contained manner.

Sixteen properties, including See Ya Later Ranch Winery, are under an evacuation alert and local state of emergency. Kirk says the local residents and wineries have kept the RDOS informed of the creeping water level for the past few weeks.

The provincial government says they’ve made this unusual order to keep the lake from cresting and damaging the vineyards and Green Lake Road.

Mike Noseworthy, senior dam safety engineer in the Okanagan and Similkameen, says they are trying to avoid the unlikely event the lake overflows and starts cutting down into a vineyard.

“It could conceivably cut down into the soil and cut back into the lake and release a much larger volume of that water being stored in the lake,” he said.

“That would have much worse consequences of course, to both the winery and the impacts downstream.”

Noseworthy says they are hoping the rain in the forecast this weekend isn’t any worse than expected. Because the spring freshet hasn’t fully started yet, it’s possible the pumps could be in place well into June.



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