B.C. boaters urged to throttle back amid flooding concerns

Osoyoos Lake.
Osoyoos Lake. Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen

With many B.C. communities swamped by rising floodwater, the province is asking recreational boaters to slow down and take care.

Several lakes across B.C.’s Interior, including Okanagan Lake and Osoyoos Lake, have risen high enough to threaten properties and Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness Jennifer Rice says careless watercraft could make things worse.

READ MORE: Flood evacuation orders lifted for 175 properties near Grand Forks

“Even a small skiff could actually cause enough of a wake to flood people’s homes,” she said. “They’re so close to the water now that even the smallest amount of lift in water could have a devastating impact on homeowners.”

Smaller boats are being asked to keep 300 metres from shorelines where possible and keep wake heights under 30 centimetres.

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Larger boats are asked to keep in the deepest and most central parts of lakes.

READ MORE: B.C.’s flood forecast is looking better, but we’re still not out of the woods

The spring freshet has also filled lakes and rivers with trees, branches and other hazards, Rice warned.

“Right now is the time to be really precautious about your speed on a lake. And also there’s a lot of debris, there’s quite a few logs and big deadheads that can easily capsize a boat.”

The Central Okanagan Regional District is also asking boaters, along with drivers and pedestrians, to steer clear of flood protection operations.

It says Okanagan Lake has topped full pool levels by six centimetres, and now sits at 342.54 metres and rising.

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The Canadian Armed Forces, along with wildfire and municipal crews, are working to protect water, sewer and electrical infrastructure and the district is warning that wave action from boats could damage bladder dams and sandbags.

Drivers and pedestrians are being reminded to steer clear of work crews, and the district says all but local traffic in work areas will be turned away.

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