Willowbrook water woes not coming from Twin Lakes

Chair of Twin Lakes area improvement district says pumping of water has not begun yet

Flooding downstream, including in Willowbrook, isn’t because of pumping at Twin Lakes, said the chairperson for the group that oversees water levels in the area.

Coral Brown, chairperson of the Lower Nipit Improvement District said water has not been pumped from Twin Lakes this year as the pump is out being serviced.

“The pump got filled with stuff, debris. It was clogged, so we hauled it out late last fall and took it in to be fixed. They had to order parts,” she said. “We are not to blame for anything that’s headed downstream.”

She’s heard from several people from the Oliver area that Twin Lakes is to blame for flooding in Willowbrook.

“I just want to get it out there that we haven’t done any pumping and that we’re not to blame for what’s going on there,” she said.

Brown said she got the call Tuesday the pump is ready, but with snow and ice still on the lake it’ll be a bit of time before it’s hooked back up.

The improvement district does have permission from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources to start pumping, but at this point there’s no immediate plan to do so.

“We do have permission now but it’s always on the condition that we don’t aggravate any flooding downstream. I think we’re a little afraid to do anything so we’re staying still at the moment and hoping for a slow melt, which it’s been doing. The cold nights have been good.”

Brown said most likely some pumping will need to be done at some point if this year is anything like last.

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“Thirteen vertical feet of water came into the lake last year. That’s a lot of water. We have to do something, but at this point we aren’t doing anything,” she said.

Brown said the issue is there is nowhere to store the water that doesn’t impact structures and property. She noted wetlands could be developed in the area to accommodate the excess water in wet years.

Ongoing issues trying to maintain water levels has prompted some residents to start considering whether there should be a Lower Nipit Improvement District or if staff at the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen would be better suited for the job.

Brown said the volunteer board’s role is to watch over lake levels and take care of water stewardship in the area. There are 70 properties in the Lower Nipit Improvement District and the majority would need to approve of creating a regional service area for the move to go forward.

“There’s just so many rules and regulations now and we just can’t keep up. We don’t have the tools or the resources to do what’s necessary here. Volunteers don’t have the tools or the resources to mitigate the drought and flood situation in the area and downstream,” she said.

Tom Siddon, regional director for the area said he supports the group folding and lake levels being managed by staff at the regional district.

“I think it’s probably time. There have been recent issues,” he said. “Last year the ministry didn’t allow them to release water till early April and it was way more than they could handle. There’s issues of liability, holding back water or realizing too much and flooding other people’s properties. It’s beyond their capability and mandate.”

The improvement district is in the process of discussing the change with its members and if there is an informal agreement an approval process to setup a service area will be devised.

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