Regional district defers to legal advice on Stump lake flooding help

Residents told the board the area needs quick action by way of support for an application to Emergency Management BC to remove water from the lake, a body of water along Highway 5A, between Kamloops and Merritt, that is prone to flooding each spring.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District will seek legal advice before it can commit to helping Stump Lake residents concerned about flooding.

On Thursday (Oct. 15), a group of residents appeared before the regional district’s board of directors.

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The board was told the area needs quick action by way of support for an application to Emergency Management BC to remove water from Stump Lake, a body of water along Highway 5A, between Kamloops and Merritt, that is prone to flooding each spring.

Lake residents said the water came up five feet this year and has only receded 19 inches. They worry for next year, with damage to date reportedly exceeding seven figures.

At issue is timing before the lake freezes.

“Without any intervention, the level of the lake going into next spring freshet is going to be higher than it’s ever been in 100 years,” Stump Lake resident Randy Bourne told the TNRD board, urging elected representatives for immediate action as winter is around the corner.

The board made no commitment to apply to have lake water removed.

TNRD chair Ken Gillis said the board would seek both staff and legal advice.

“We understand the urgency,” he said.

In June of this year, after the lake flooded, forcing closure of the highway between Kamloops and Merritt, TNRD Area M (Nicola Valley North) director David Laird said the issue has been ongoing since 2017, but is worse this year.

“It’s even more impacted this year because of the amount of water the freshet brought down and the amount of rain we’ve had in the last two or three weeks,” Laird said then. “The whole surface of the lake has actually risen approximately 12 feet above where it was in 2017.”

Laird said the water had 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.

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