The Town of Osoyoos is closing its downtown marina and other community boat launches as Osoyoos Lake continues to rise.
The decision comes as the lake’s water level reached 914.56 feet this afternoon — about four inches below where the lake crested in June 2017.
At its present rate of increase, the lake will likely top last year’s maximum level of 914.89 inches overnight.
“That is what I’m anticipating,” said Janette Van Vianen, the Town’s Director of Corporate Services.”We’ll probably hit that before midnight, I’m guessing.
“If people were close to flooding last year, they should be sandbagging,” said Ms. Van Vianen. “The properties that did flood should definitely be sandbagged by now, because they’re probably seeing some flooding already.”
Sand and sandbags are available at three locations in the community:
- Hwy 3 across from the Osoyoos Dairy Queen – 5914 Main St, Osoyoos;
- The Boat Trailer Parking lot located at Hwy 3 – 6901 Main St, Osoyoos; and,
- 91 St at Hwy 97 (bottom of Graveyard Hill)
“We’re getting the sand to all three locations as fast as we can,” said Ms. Van Vianen. “The problem is getting all the sand. There’s such a high demand on it, people just have to be patient. There’s only so many trucks (to move it.)”
The Town is also encouraging neighbours to look out for each other.
“If people are wishing to volunteer and come out and fill some bags that would be great,” she said. “I’ve also had people mention to me that they don’t have the proper vehicles to be able to take bags to their property.”
Volunteers wishing to help can contact the Town of Osoyoos office at 250-495-6515 or the Emergency Operations Centre at 250-490-4225.”
The Town is also working to reduce the number of watercraft on the lake, noting larger craft leave a wake that can impact the water-sogged shoreline.
“All watercraft are requested to stay ashore or be [aware of] the wave action on shoreline properties,” the Town said. “Boaters are also cautioned that there is minimal clearance and strong undercurrents under the [Hwy. 3] bridge.
“Travel under the bridge should be avoided or must be done using extreme caution.”
The community — like many others in the BC Interior — sits in the shadow of a snowpack that, as of May 1, was at more than 200 percent of normal.
“The snow index for the Okanagan is 206% of normal,” reported BC’s River Forecast Centre yesterday. [This] is the highest observed snow pack dating back to 1980.”
Some of the mountain melt flows into the Okanagan River, which empties into the north end of Osoyoos Lake. However, it is the Similkameen — which enters the Okanogan south of Osoyoos Lake — that is responsible for a more serious concern.
If the Similkameen overwhelms Zosel Dam — located in Oroville, just south of the US border — it would cause the water level in Osoyoos Lake to rise even more.
“The Similkameen River is rapidly rising and emergency officials are monitoring the effects it may have on Osoyoos Lake in the future,” the Town reported. “It is dependent upon the rate of snow melt in the upper elevations and the amount of rain received during the freshet.”
As of 1:30 this afternoon, the Similkameen had a recorded discharge of 24,300 cu. ft./s. — five times its normal rate of discharge. It also had reached a gauge height of 13.70 feet, about four inches below what is considered to be a flood condition.