As water levels in Shuswap Lake continue to rise, popular Canoe Beach could soon be closed due to flooding.
City council heard June 1 that the high water levels are being evaluated.
“We will be reviewing the beach this week to see if we require a closure, because as you know as the water rises, the first thing to flood is actually the tunnel,” said Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works, referring to the tunnel under the railway tracks connecting the parking lot to the beach. “That becomes a liability so we end up closing the beach.”
As of the morning of June 1, the lake level was at 348.672 metres.
Niewenhuizen said with the weather forecast predicting more rain showers on Tuesday and this coming weekend, the lake may rise to 349 metres by the weekend.
“We will keep an eye on the lake levels and when the levels surpass 349.0 metres we will perform a safety assessment of the beach area which will determine if a closure is required.”
In 2012, which produced Shuswap Lake’s highest level in recent years, the lake’s peak level was 349.588 metres on June 27, according to ShuswapLakeWatch.com.
Most recently, flooding was experienced in 2017 with a peak lake level of 349.072 metres on June 10.
In 2018 the lake peaked at 349.141 metres on May 29.
Starting June 1, the Shuswap Emergency Program and city crews were working to sandbag and put up gabion baskets to protect the Canoe Beach area.
The first structures to protect were the pump stations at Canoe Beach, Niewenhuizen said.
“Similar to 2018, 2017, 2012, we’ve got the experience and we… have the steps in place for what’s next.”
He said work has also started at the Marine Park Wharf where the docks are being elevated in anticipation of the higher water.
At the old federal wharf in downtown Canoe, large concrete blocks will probably be put on the wharf to weigh it down, because it is not fastened. He said it’s on ‘pile caps’ so if the water gets as high as it did in 2018, “it will actually come right off those pile caps so we have to weigh it down.”
As for the waste water treatment plant in Salmon Arm, Niewenhiuzen said it’s not in need of protection.
“However if the water gets really high, we may have problems discharging into the lake because of the hydraulic pressure pushing back on the pipe because it’s gravity flow from the plant to the lake.”