Flood victims urge action

Colton Davies

The flood outlook is finally beginning to improve in the community of Twin Lakes, but residents there won't be settled until a long-term water management plan is developed.

According to the Lower Nipit Improvement District, which supervises water levels, Lower Twin Lake peaked at just under 27 feet in late May — a rise of about nine feet since it fully thawed on April 18.

However, pumping has picked up on the kettle lake which has no natural outflow, and the lake is dropping by about two inches each day, down to 24.85 feet on Wednesday morning.

Resident Craig Hunter, who began sandbagging in March, says the rate of decline is "a godsend."

He lives in one of nine properties that have been evacuated since May 23, but he and his wife never left. He's been maintaining the pump station around the clock since then, to avoid the lake from climbing over the massive sandbag wall and raised roadway. 

"Initially I was filling gas pumps every 90 minutes... It was a big challenge to say the least. It was pretty at night, lots of wildlife, but it wasn't good for sleeping," Hunter says. "The [regional district] wasn't staffed to do that, and they actually asked me to stay and maintain that after I said I wasn't leaving. So I think I performed a pretty important function."

Hunter says he was also given a badge from military engineers, as an acknowledgement of his flood-prevention efforts. 

But no accolades will stop the worries that Hunter and the community still have looking ahead. The area has endured flooding for two years, and they're urging action to better manage water in Twin Lakes and the entire Park Rill watershed.

"I don't want to chance my luck again next year. Let's make a concrete, conservative effort to make a clear plan in managing both high and low water in this watershed," he says. "It connects not just Twin Lakes, but we've got Willowbrook, Sportsmens Bowl all the way to Osoyoos... It's a whole watershed issue that really needs a large, collaborative response from the authority figures."

Coral Brown, chair of the LNID, has pointed out that Twin Lakes has dealt with drought more often than flooding, which she says can be overlooked in a year like this.

She says a water management plan would involve negotiations between residents, the regional district, the province and the Nature Trust of BC (who own most of the land around Twin Lake), among other stakeholders.

"The waterway needs to be fixed. There needs to be cooperation between people that are on this waterway," Brown says.

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