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Water Today Title July 7, 2022

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Updated 2017/5/31


This story is brought to you in part by Energy Systems & Designs

By Ronan O'Doherty

As water levels in Lake Okanagan continue to creep upwards, Kelowna residents are doing their best to stay positive.

Heavy rain over the last month mixed with the spring melt has seen the lake rise to 343.15cm above sea level. Many smaller lakes as well as their respective tributaries are also far higher than usual.

"The lake went up another 4cm last night," said Jodie Foster, an information officer with Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre, "It's very weather dependant and a lot of the high altitude snow pack has yet to melt."

Because the dam is at the bottom of the lake, it can only let out 1.5cm a day, so it will take a number of weeks before the water gets back to a comfortable level.

Evacuation orders have been issued for people living near the mouth of Mission Creek in the southern end of Kelowna. High wind gusts of up to 25km an hour are causing waves that have the ability to overrun fortifications against flooding.

Foster said that residents in the Tween Lakes Campground have also been issued evacuation orders, as water begins to engulf the residents RVs across the park.

Ken Malcolm, president of Total Restoration Services in Kelowna, doesn't recall seeing the lake this high in 30 to 40 years.

He says along the shores of Lake Okanagan there are no beaches left.

"People are sitting on their grass looking at a big orange rubber tube that's trying to hold back the water from flooding out the parks," Malcolm said, "Park benches are 40 feet out in the water. Trees are way out in the water. We're just not used to seeing that here."

His company is providing water damage restoration to many residents and businesses, with his employees working around the clock. " Homeowners, who have flooding in their basements are aware of the high water tables in the Okanagan, so it's not that big a surprise," Malcolm said, " but some of the commercial guys have their warehouses flooded out in areas that have never been flooded before."

It is situations like these that seem to bring out the best in some communities. Malcolm pointed to the influx of volunteers he's seen helping their neighbours get through the crisis.

"The community is really coming together," he said, "People are helping with docks and they're out there with their elbow grease flinging sandbags and helping people who don't have the manpower to do it," adding, "It's been a real pleasure to see that."

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