Mayo River water recedes as ice jams cleared

Yukon government crews have cleared ice jams on the Mayo River, allowing flood water to subside from threatened Mayo homes.
Some Mayo residents blame Yukon Energy's Mayo B hydroelectric plant for the flood. 'I don't believe having a water license gives you the licence to damage people's property,' says Bruce Mitford. (Courtesy Beth Hunt)

Yukon government crews have cleared ice jams on the Mayo River, allowing flood water to subside from threatened Mayo homes.

Yukon Energy has also agreed to temporarily reduce flows through the Mayo hydro plant, to allow for further ice removal.

Two homes on Bruce Mitford's riverside property were threatened this week by water overflowing the banks of the Mayo River. He woke up yesterday with river water lapping at his front door.

Mitford says he's in the clear for now.

"They removed a block across the river from our place and removed some of the pressure and the water backed up and the water went down about eight inches, so it's not over the bank at our place anymore," he said.

"So once they get that channel established we shouldn't have any more trouble this year but nobody knows for sure."

Mitford had blamed Yukon Energy for increased flows from its new Mayo B hydro dam.

"The last thing anyone wants to do is reduce the flow,” he says, “but I don't believe having a water licence gives you the licence to damage people's property.”

Yukon Energy denied responsibility for the flooding, but spokesperson Janet Patterson said company engineers will consider all options.

"If we did reduce flows, that could result in the ice cover breaking up and could possibly cause ice jams and that could make the situation worse,” Patterson says.

“The fact is there was flooding before Mayo B was built.”

She said if the water flow is reduced, the lost power would have to be replaced from somewhere else, possibly from its diesel plants.

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