While large-scale flooding events have hit other areas of the province, Cranbrook has been relatively unscathed by any overflow from the lone waterway that runs through town.
However, despite that, Joseph Creek is running high and the BC River Forecast Centre just issued a flood watch for the Moyie River.
Mike Matejka, the City of Cranbrook’s Manager of Infrastructure Planning & Delivery Division, says the city is keeping an eye on the Joseph Creek waterway to stay on top of any flooding as the seasonal runoff begins.
“We do have our city road crews as well as some of our management staff increase the routine patrols of the creek,” said Matejka, “and the related infrastructure in town on a daily basis just to track where there may be erosion occurring or potential debris or anything in the creek that would make any high water or flooding situation worse, such that we can be proactive to clear drains, clear any blockages or any pipes that convey that stream flow.”
Matejka adds that the city has also increased the monitoring of flows and water levels further up the Joseph Creek watershed near the reservoir and intake structures to help track what may be coming downstream.
“Right now, there is no dedicated streamflow forecasting for the streams that go into the city because they are relatively small and minor,” Matejka said. “We do try to keep track of the BC River Forecast which has just recently upgraded from a high streamflow advisory to a flood watch, so that does help give us an indication that there is a higher potential, especially with some associated rainfall.”
However, Matejka adds that there are plans to install further monitoring equipment up nearby watersheds over the next two years to help further predict and respond proactively to increased streamflows and potential flooding events.
“So the city has it in the budget for 2018 and 2019 to install creek flow monitoring devices on Joseph Creek, Jim Smith Creek and Hospital Creek,” Matejka said. “We’re also hoping to install additional weather stations, climate stations at these locations that will help record rainfall amounts and with that information, we’re hoping to be able to better predict the volume and the timing of the runoff based on snowpack in the region and based on the incoming weather systems.
“So this we’re hoping to build a bit of a model that will help us predict these things and be more proactively able to prepare for any major events within the watersheds that enter the city.”
Matejka says that based on past flooding activity, the city is watching certain areas to ensure that staff can have a proactive response if water levels begin to substantially rise.
“We do know the routine areas in town that have issues every so often, so we are aware of those areas,” he said. “We monitor those areas especially and we are prepared to go out to those areas and deliver sandbags and put up sandbags in htose areas should we see those waters rising and should we see any rain events that are going to continue to cause those issues.
“So we do monitor especially those trouble spots and are able to deploy resources fairly quickly there.”
While the city is responsible for monitoring public lands that include Joseph Creek, it is up to individual property owners to protect their homes if their property borders on the waterway.
However, there are resources available if water levels breach the banks and threaten homes.
“The city will help provide resources in those situations,” Matejka said, “so we do have sand and sandbags available at the City Public Works yard, should people in the public want some resources to help do some sandbagging along their property.
“And if it becomes a major event, then we will also work with the Regional District and the Province if there needs to be additional resources for property owners to help protect their property.”
The Regional District of East Kootenay says there are no major flooding events happening right now, but officials say they are monitoring local conditions.
“We are seeing an expected rise in local streams and tributaries as the mid and higher elevation snow melts and are urging residents who are in flood-prone locations to be proactive in protecting their properties,” says Terry Balan, the RDEK Protective Services Supervisor.
Over the next two days, the weather forecast is calling for potential for localized thundershowers that could produce several millimetres of rain in a very short period of time.
“Our snow levels remain above normal. The higher-than-seasonal temperatures we are experiencing and concentrated rain events can certainly increase the potential for localized flooding. Right now, we are holding our own and we remain ready to respond if required,” adds Balan.