British Columbia

Local state of emergency declared as Windermere Creek in southeastern B.C. continues to rise

Creek levels continue to rise near the East Kootenay community, creating the potential for flooding.

Campground owner says flooding in East Kootenays could damage her property — again

Windermere Creek at the end of May. (Christine DeBois)

A local state of emergency has been declared in Windermere, B.C, as creek levels continue to rise, threatening to flood the area near the Alberta border in southeastern corner of the province.

The Regional District of East Kootenay made the declaration to fast track approvals for excavation work to clear sediment from Windermere Creek that has created a bottleneck and rising water.

"For the past several days, since we had a large rain event last week, a number of creeks around the region have obviously been running high and Windermere Creek is one of those creeks that has been running high so we have been continuing to monitor it since last week's rainstorm," district information officer Loree Duczek told CBC's Bob Keating.

"The levels started to get to the point where they were swelling and causing the potential for flooding of homes and properties"

There are no evacuation orders or alerts at this time. 

Local campground and marina owner Christine DuBois said water is already about halfway up her 1.2-metre flood fence. Out of concern the fence will fail as water rises, she and her guests have started sandbagging. 

Residents of Windermere, B.C., are sandbagging to protect their properties from possible flooding. (Loree Duczek)

She installed the fence after a flood in 2011 because she anticipated flooding would be an ongoing issue.

"When we had a horrible flood in 2011," DuBois said, "it got into our sewer system and it was a complete mess down here."

Since then, she's been lobbying local government to fix the creek upstream, where it was diverted by a local rancher. She said flooding didn't occur before that work was done.

"The majority of the gravel has already entered into our lake and it's forming a giant delta that was never there prior to 2011," DuBois said.

"Every year it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger. It baffles me how someone can divert a creek upstream and cause damage to every single property owner downstream. That person never gets punished or they don't go after them to put the creek back to where it was. And then the government doesn't go back in and fix the creek."

A new channel of Windermere Creek has been created on Christine DeBois's campground property, sweeping gravel and sediment into Windermere Lake. (Christine DuBois)

Duczek said DuBois's concerns are part of a long-term planning in the community. 

"Right now the situation that we're dealing with is the emergency situation of the flooding of homes and properties," Duczek said. 

She said long-term solutions to the issue must include the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, and those discussion are underway.

With files from Bob Keating

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