Continuous flooding of Highway 5A between Kamloops and Merritt is one of the targets of millions of dollars of funding from the provincial government.
The province has announced $20.7 million in funding from StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan Climate Adaptation Program. The program will support a range of projects throughout B.C., with the intention of increasing resiliency of the highway network and to help lessen the adverse effects of climate change.
One of the projects involves cyclical flooding of Highway 5A at Stump Lake, about 40 minutes south of Kamloops. Flood protection will be constructed to raise the profile of the highway above future flood levels to ensure no further impacts to the highway.
The rising water levels at Stump Lake have caused extensive property damage for residents, with the highway at times being impassable until raised above the flood level.
One of the key threats to the reliability of the highway network is climate related and examples include high-intensity rainfall events, extreme freshet seasons and flooding,” Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said. “These events have been increasing in intensity due to climate change, and this initiative ensures a reliable transportation system will be in place for future emergency events as well as the continued movement of people, goods and services.”
In May 2020, the highway was closed for a few days as water from Stump Lake flooded the route.
At that time, Thompson-Nicola Regional District Area M (Nicola Valley North) director David Laird said the issue has been ongoing since 2017, noting the water last spring affected between six and eight properties “quite severely,” as well as lake frontage. He said the province has raised Highway 5A as water levels have risen.
Laird said a consultant was hired in recent years to investigate the potential for removing water from the lake. The issue, he said, dates back a century, at which time a berm was apparently constructed at the lake. Information about who placed the berm is not available, Laird said, but the consultant’s report noted the berm could be removed to improve the situation.
“Projects throughout B.C. include slope-erosion protection, flood-protection works, riverbank-erosion protection, creek-channel training, culvert upsizing and avalanche-system maintenance.