Wednesday morning crews sandbagged around critical infrastructure and emptied the town’s sewer lift station as a precaution. Water restrictions were also ordered. - Photo credit Andrea DeMeer

Similkameen River drops; predictions are more positive

“We are definitely not going to let our guard down but things are starting to level out and it’s looking better.”

While a provincial flood warning is being maintained for the Similkameen River, and all evacuation alerts for the Town of Princeton and surrounding areas remain in effect, there is good news flowing out of the BC River Forecast Centre.

As of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday the service is reporting “river levels are expected to hold or drop slightly through Thursday. However, there is the potential for additional rises this weekend with warmer weather.”

The Similkameen is flowing through Hedley at 600 cubic metres per second, which is rated at between a five and 10 year flow.

Related: Princeton residents under sweeping evacuation alert

Lyle Thomas, information officer for Princeton, said it’s positive news.

“They’ve slightly downgraded what they think the peak is going to be…along with that it’s going to be a more prolonged run off, slightly less volume but over a longer period of time,” he said.

“We are definitely not going to let our guard down but things are starting to level out and it’s looking better.”

Wednesday morning, in a move to protect critical infrastructure in a flood situation, town crews sandbagged areas around its wells, and the sewer lift station at the end of Fenchurch Avenue.

Related: Flood risk increases as heavy rainfall forecast for the Okanagan

“It’s just a precaution, just doing our due diligence…If flood water were to go above ground and go down into a well then definitely we would have cross contamination and we would not want that.”

At the same time a water restriction order was put in place, restricting lawn watering to alternative days and specific times.

Thomas said that order is part of the municipality’s efforts to protect the sewer system and residents are also asked – if they are using sump pumps in their basements – to flow water out into the street and not into a drain.

Trucks have emptied the lift station.

“We want to make that as low as possible. We don’t want to be at full capacity.”

Nearly one-third of properties in Princeton are under evacuation alert issued Sunday.

Approximately 465 homes and businesses near the Tulameen and Similkameen rivers comprise the alert area, and about 112 properties in Area H are also under alert.

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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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