Ice jam along Bulkley River floods residents' backyards
Ice jam along the Bulkley River near Smithers, B.C. causing river levels to rise
An ice jam along the Bulkley River near Smithers, B.C. is causing river levels to rise significantly and is spilling over and flooding nearby backyards.
"Flooding of property is the number one concern for a lot of people, who like me live nearby the river," said Councillor Phil Brienesse with the Town of Smithers.
The ice jam — which occurs when water builds up behind a blockage of ice — began forming over the weekend and is roughly along a 300 metre stretch of the river.
"The river was rising quite quickly and it's about a foot and half from going over the bank" said Brienesse.
Usually the river doesn't thaw until the Spring, but in recent years it has been happening earlier in the winter and more frequently.
"Winter comes and the river freezes up. Then it gets warm, the river starts to break up, ice starts flowing down the river then it gets cold again, so those chunks glom up together," said Berniesse.
The rapid thawing and freezing means higher risks of flooding and if water levels continue to rise there may be an evacuation order issued for those living nearby.
Currently none has been issued.
"We have in place emergency social services. If people are unable to arrange their own lodging, we can do lodging for them," said Bill Miller with the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako.
If the ice jam loosens, that would relieve the threat of flooding in Smithers, but it could still cause rising water levels downstream.
Miller says the ice jam is showing no signs of slowing down and is being monitored by the provincial government's BC Water Stewardship.
With files from Kamil Karamali
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