Highway 5A will remain impassable at Stump Lake for foreseeable future

Stump Lake, about 40 kilometres south of Kamloops, spilled its banks on May 4, cutting off travel on Highway 5A between Kamloops and Merritt

Thompson-Nicola Regional District emergency program co-ordinator Kevin Skrepnek said Highway 5A near Stump Lake is likely to remain closed in both directions for the foreseeable future due to flooding.

That means travel between Kamloops and Merritt via the Old Merritt Highway (5A) will remain off limits as vehicles will need to use the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5).

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Stump Lake, about 40 kilometres south of Kamloops, spilled its banks on May 4.

“They’re going to need to do some work on it to get it reopened,” Skrepnek told KTW on Monday.

Skrepnek said high water and wind in the area created wave action on Stump Lake that pushed debris onto the road.

“Unfortunately, based on the information we are getting from the province, we’re not expecting the rising water to cease any time soon,” Skrepnek said. “There is likely going to be further increases out there.”

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.

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