British Columbia

Fighting water with water: 'aquadam' deployed against Kelowna floods

Officials deployed what they're calling an “aquadam” Thursday night along Bellevue Creek in Kelowna. It’s a large tube that can be filled with water to rapidly create a barrier to keep flood waters contained.

Aquadams can provide flood protection for large areas quicker than sandbags, official says

An aquadam deployed in Kelowna. Aquadams have the advantage of being able to cover a large area faster than sandbags. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

As the flooding threat still looms over B.C.'s Interior, officials are deploying a unique tool to keep that threat at bay.

Officials deployed what's nicknamed an "aquadam" Thursday night along Bellevue Creek.

It's a large tube, sort of like a massive fire hose that can be filled with water to rapidly create a barrier to keep flood waters contained.

"They can deploy quickly, and they would follow the terrain because they're just a big, water-filled bag … much quicker to deploy than sandbags," Alan Newcombe, operations section chief with the Emergency Operations Centre said.

Newcombe says the aquadam installed along Bellevue Creek, in the south end of Kelowna, was a precautionary measure, as the creek's water has not yet spilled over the banks.

"Hopefully, we don't have to use it, but if the creek comes up, it's there."

Nearby resident George Robichaud said he was impressed by the device.

"I just think it's a fantastic idea. It sure beats sandbagging, doing all that labour," he said. "They do the trick."

Newcombe says there are plans to deploy more aquadams along creeks and then potentially redeploying them along the lakefront, especially near the hospital.

"As the snowpack melts … the lake will rise over its current level over the next two, three weeks," he said. "We'll react as necessary."

Newcombe says one challenge of the aquadams is they can only be deployed in long stretches free of obstructions, like fences.

For that reason, Mill Creek, which has many houses backing onto it, might not be a good place for them.

He says more aquadams are expected to arrive Saturday.

Houses sit behind an aquadam in Kelowna. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

With files from Brady Strachan