Mother nature will once again have the last word.
While the BC River Forecast Centre is maintaining a flood watch issued for the Shuswap River June 10 at 7 p.m., local concerns are centred around lake levels.
Swollen following several days of heavy rain, flows are expected to remain elevated on the Shuswap River at Enderby, and it may be a couple of days before there is a significant decline, says a River Forecast Centre update. The centre will continue to monitor conditions and will provide updates as conditions warrant.
Columbia Shuswap Regional District Emergency Program co-ordinator Cliff Doherty says other river reports indicate the Adams, Seymour and the Eagle rivers are levelling off, with inflow matching outflow.
He says officials at the Sugar Lake Dam had to release more water than normal, an act that will elevate lake levels somewhat.
“The good news is, we removed the evacuation alert in the Sims Creek Sundance Road area near Sicamous at 1:25 p.m. June 11,” he said. “All the work MOTI (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure) was doing, armouring the banks of the creek, was to be complete by 4 p.m.”
Turning to Shuswap Lake, Doherty said the electronic gauge at Canoe recorded the level at 348.25 metres Monday afternoon.
Doherty says the Water Stewardship Division of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said Monday morning they continue to believe the lake will crest at a one in five year flood level, probably in the third week of June.
“That description is 348.7 metres and similar to where the lake got to last year,” says Doherty. “It’s normal.”
That doesn’t mean all area residents are out of the woods yet.
“The biggest concern we have right now is beach dwellers – maybe not so much from water levels, but from waves caused by wind or boating activity,” he says.
Over at the City of Salmon Arm’s Public Works Department, manager John Rosenberg says he’s hopeful freshet will continue without incident.
But in the spirit of hope for the best and prepare for the worst, Rosenberg says the city has put its action plan into effect.
Water levels are checked daily and staff are on call 24-7.
Rosenberg says reports indicate area snowpacks are significantly lower – down to 60 to 80 percent of what they were.
“If we get a bunch more rain, the levels will come up, and if it doesn’t, the lake will flush out well,” he says. “We’re still .4 of a metre off last year.”
Public works staff have made alterations to the gangplank at Marine Park wharf, where the drop is usually 16 feet to the lower docks but is now almost level with the large wharf.
If lake levels rise by another half-metre, Rosenberg says staff may have to do something with the federal wharf in Canoe as well.
“The lake moves 15 feet, plus or minus, every year,” he says. “It’s like an annual tide rather than a daily tide. It’s a significant difference.”
He says waves can change the water elevation by two feet or .6 metres – something beach residents should keep in mind over the next few weeks.
“We’re doing our due diligence – our action plan is in place and we’ll deal with whatever comes along.”
Rosenberg and Doherty both agree what comes along will be dependent on the weather mother nature serves up in the near future.
Both men also agree that concerned waterfront residents should get some sand bags and get busy protecting their property.
In Salmon Arm, sand bags are available at the Public Works office on 30th Street SE, with sand available nearby in the overflow parking lot at the Little Mountain Field House.
Sandbags are also available at Sorrento Parts & Service. Find them in Sicamous at the public works department.
The third thing Doherty and Rosenberg agree on is that people and pets should stay well away from the area’s fast-flowing rivers.