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Flooding prompts state of emergency in Area M

Area between Kamloops and Merritt has no evacuation orders or alerts in place as of yet
flooding upper nicola band
This photo from April 30 shows flooding at Quilchena Creek along IR 2 Hamilton Creek.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District on Thursday issued a state of emergency for Area M — Beautiful Nicola Valley North, between Kamloops and Merritt — due to flooding in the region from this year’s freshet.

At this point, there are no evacuation alerts or orders in place, but issuing the state of emergency enables local authorities to exercise the emergency powers to order the evacuation of residents from their homes, prohibit travel and enter private property when an emergency

The electoral area includes Stump Lake, Douglas Lake and Mamette Lake.

It also includes Nicola Lake, where there is also a flood advisory in place.

Water levels in Nicola Lake have increased by a half-metre in the past week as a result of last week’s melt. The lake is rising at a rate of 15 centimetres per day.

The TNRD said conditions this week are similar to what was experienced last spring.

The state of emergency also ensures access to the dam at Mamette Lake, which is seeing high outflows, said Area M director Randy Murray.

The Lower Nicola Indian Band controls the dam and has been trying to do preventative maintenace at the site, but their only access to it goes through private property. The owner of that property wouldn't allow band members through the property because of a dispute over the band's moratorium on biosolids in the area.

Issuing the state of emergency enabled band to gain access to the dam.

Murray said high stream flows and some flooding is ongoing throughout the electoral area.

“We’re keeping a real close eye on Stump Lake right now,” Murray said, adding it is fair to say there’s strong outflows on every tributary in the area.

He said melt from Stump Creek on the north end of the lake put a lot of pressure on the culverting and washed out Old Kamloops Road, leaving some residents stranded.

Residents weren’t completely cut off, however, as there is access at the south end of the lake via backwoods, Murray said, noting a temporary bridge is being installed on the north end.

“But with the water and the runoff, Stump doesn’t have a natural drainage on the south end. It’s really just an evaporation lake and then anything that drains out through the ground,” Murray said.

The lake didn’t recede much after last year’s high water hit, Murray said, which has created conditions this year.

He said hydrologists were examining the area on Thursday and various government agencies are trying to decide what options to take, such as pumping water out of the lake or sandbagging to protect property.

In light of current conditions and high potential inflow volumes to Nicola Lake — which lies south of Stump Lake — residents upstream and downstream of the Nicola Lake Dam are being warned of rising water levels.

“Residents are advised to protect their docks, septic systems and any other infrastructure that may be at risk of sustaining damage in the event of high water levels,” stated a TNRD release.

Residents needing access to sand and sandbags can contact the TNRD at 1-877-377-8673.

 

—with files from the Merritt Herald

(This story was updated on May 4 to add details regarding the access dispute to the Mamette Lake dam)