Town of Osoyoos infrastructure is being sandbagged and armoured against rising waters. Photo courtesy of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen

More flooding likely in Similkameen River and Osoyoos Lake

Rising water expected to peak Friday

Continuing warm temperatures and a high snowpack mean water levels will continue to rise in both the Similkameen River and Osoyoos Lake, which has already passed last year’s maximum.

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen says to expect that situation to continue from now through Friday when they estimate the rising water will peak.

The Similkameen River collects water from as far away as Manning Park and the Coquihalla Highway. Meltwater from these mountains is predicted to rise with warm weather forecasted.

The Similkameen River, and its tributaries such as the Tulameen River, have already created problems including the closure of Highway 3 and evacuation of homes.

The Similkameen River enters the Okanagan Valley just below Osoyoos Lake and is expected to flow high enough to push as much as several feet of additional water back into Osoyoos Lake. Osoyoos Lake is already flooding with 53 properties and one lakefront hotel in Osoyoos and 17 properties in rural Electoral Area ‘A’ evacuated as of Sunday.

All rural electoral areas and several RDOS municipalities are under states of local emergency. The RDOS, working with the province, has already distributed 1,000,000 sandbags. Crews from the B.C. Wildfire service have helped build kilometres of sandbag walls, tiger dams and rock gabions to protect critical infrastructure and, when the resources are available, private properties.

The RDOS is planning for the additional water moving into local creeks, rivers and lakes this week. Evacuation plans, including providing accommodation for people evacuated, have been developed. A public information meeting will be held at the Osoyoos Sonora Centre at 6:30 p.m. on May 15 with officials from the Town of Osoyoos, the province and RDOS.

Sand and sandbag locations have been set up across the RDOS. Volunteers can help by filling sandbags for affected residents. Residents can contact the RDOS at 250-490-4225 to get sand and sandbag locations and ask for additional sand and sandbags at those locations.

Current Evacuations

  • Town of Osoyoos – 53 properties and 1 hotel evacuated
  • Rural Osoyoos – 17 properties evacuated
  • Tulameen (north-west of Princeton, BC) – 15 properties evacuated
  • Sportsmens Bowl Rd (north of Oliver, BC) – 17 properties evacuated
  • Cawston – one property evacuated
  • Green Mountain Road – one property evacuated
  • Over 600 properties on Evacuation Alert

For all other inquiries, call the Emergency Operations Centre at 250-490-4225. For after-hours emergencies, call the Provincial Emergency Program at 1-800-663-3456.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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