The B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is reporting good progress on Highway 5A at Stump Lake, where crews are working to raise three sections of road that were flooded when the lake spilled its banks on May 4.
The highway, which is closed in both directions, is expected to reopen on Friday morning (May 15) to single-lane, alternating traffic, meaning travel between Kamloops and Merritt via the Old Merritt Highway (5A) can resume.
Thompson-Nicola Regional District emergency program co-ordinator Kevin Skrepnek previously told KTW high water and wind in the area created wave action on Stump Lake that pushed debris onto the road at the lake, about 40 kilometres south of Kamloops.
Last week, the outlook for the road opening appeared bleak for the foreseeable future, but a recent tweet from B.C. Transportation showed photos of vehicles at work and improvements to damaged areas.
Flooding is affecting lakeside properties, with land and homes taking in water, mostly on the north and south ends of the lake, according to Skrepnek.
Homeowners are responsible for protecting their properties, but Skrepnek said the regional district is making available sand and sandbags.
“We’re doing what we can to set them up with tools,” he said.
Skrepnek said the lake, generally speaking, releases water through evaporation, with no natural robust outflow area.
“There is more water coming in than can get out and that’s why we’re seeing the flooding,” he said.
Stump Lake flooded in 2017 and 2018.
Significant flooding in 2018 was followed by a meeting with representatives from the province, regional district and property owners affected.
“A few options were looked at, in terms of potentially building a dam or doing excavation to let more water out,” Skrepnek said.
“There were three options, one of them being the status quo and the other two were going to be very complicated and expensive options, which would require a lot of regulatory approval from the province and federal government, as well. When we looked at the options in 2018, there was no clear path forward.”
In May of 2018, with flooding rampant across the B.C. Interior, then-TNRD Area M (Nicola Valley North) director Randy Murray told KTW the only way water can leave Stump Lake, aside from evaporation and ground filtration, is if levels rise to clear a dam that is no longer operational.