Report suggests Princeton needs millions of dollars for flood prevention

The level of concern about flooding in Princeton in the spring of 2018 was certainly high – and the municipality is now applying for a $150,000 grant to fund flood risk assessment, including mapping and mitigation planning.

“I think 2018 was one of the more concerning years,” said Mayor Spencer Coyne. “The freshet was higher than normal but so were groundwater levels. Fortunately the worst case scenario didn’t happen but it should have been a wake up call for everyone who lives along the water ways of the Similkameen watershed.”

Related: Princeton area prepares for what may be torrential flood waters

A report commissioned by the RDOS, and produced by Dobson Engineering, details the impact of flood activity in town and was recently released by the municipality.

It identifies flood risks at four separate locations, and makes recommendations for extending dikes – and other measures – to protect property and infrastructure in the future.

“November 1995 was our last major flood in Princeton. A lot of work was done after that flood to our diking system. It is important to know where we are. There has been development along the river down by Burton Avenue, Similkameen Avenue and past Pines – not to mention the changes upstream and how that will impact water flows,” said Coyne.

“What worried me personally during last years flood season was the amount of water flow that was predicted. I was confident in our Emergency Operations team and our ESS team the coordination and organization at our local Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) put most of my concerns at ease as we worked though the event.”

The Dobson report was a “cursory review”, that lacked in depth analysis as well as mitigation measures, according to a staff report. The grant, if obtained, will provide for more information and planning.

However in summary the document suggests that permanent solutions for addressing flooding in vulnerable areas in town could top $5 million.

That is not a surprise, said Coyne.

“Not at all. Diking is an expensive endeavour and it has to be done right. We watched as Grand Forks was devastated by flooding last year.”

Following are the four identified risk areas, with information extracted from the Dobson Report.

Related: South Okanagan community gets kudos for proactive flood work

Related: A new low: thief steals sandbags from home threatened by flood

Similkameen River

Issue – Public safety with flood risks along sections of the Similkameen River within the town where there are no flood protection works.

Risks – There is a reach on the Similkameen River within the town that is not protected. The adjacent resident and commercial areas and highway are at risk of being damaged by flood waters.

Permanent solution – A standard dike – 1,200 meters – designed and consistent with the provincial diking standards, is required from the east end of the existing dike near Stout Street to the Highway 3 bridge.

Estimated cost – $3 million.

Tulameen River

Issue – Public safety with flooding of residential areas from Tulameen River.

Risks – A section along the Tulameen River between 438 and 488 Corina Avenue has no flood protection works and is at risk of flooding from high flows in the river.

Permanent solution – A standard dike constructed – 675 meters.

Estimated cost – $1.3 million

Confluence of Similkameen and Tulameen Rivers

Issue – Public safety. The former KVR railway grade is the only form of flood protection for the city at the confluence and it was never designed for this purpose.

Risks – If the rail grade was to fail Highway 5A and adjacent residential and commercial may be at risk.

Permanent solution – The former rail grade could be constructed to provincial standards and armoured with riprap.

Estimated cost – $800,000.

China Creek

Issue – Public safety with debris jams from vegetation encroaching a neighbourhood in town.

Risks – Flows in the China Creek channel from Tulameen Avenue to Tulameen River are obstructed by encroaching vegetation that caused flood damage to adjacent dwellings during the 2018 freshnet flows.

Permanent solution – Remove vegetation and woody debris from the channel.

Estimated cost (included reclamation planting) – $20,000.

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