June 12, 2017

Canadian Navy ship HMCS GoosebayLast week we asked our readers to write if they were affected by high water levels and we got several responses – all saying that their areas were affected by high water.

One of the first to respond was Brock Elliott, owner of Kelowna-based Campion Boats. The west has certainly seen more water than usual and we learned that the Kelowna Daily Courier reported on creeping groundwater that is believed to be a threat to homes near Penticton. A new concern has emerged just north of Penticton at Red Wing Resorts, where a local state of emergency was declared last Tuesday night.

(Above) The high water has helped make it possible for the Canadian Navy ship HMCS Goosebay to make it into Cobourg Harbour.

Besides the obvious threat from a swollen Okanagan Lake, officials are also worried about the migration of groundwater underneath the community of 350 homes.

Dale Kronebusch, emergency services supervisor for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, said the lake’s projected crest of 343.5 metre above sea level is about the same height as land at the base of the silt bluffs on the western edge of the resort.

If groundwater spreads that far and undermines the bluffs, they could crumble and damage houses above and below, he explained.

The area of greatest concern is the Penticton Yacht Club and Marina, where the lake is expected to overtake a temporary dam and flood the parking lot.

In the Kelowna Capital News this past week, it was reported that from March through May, total flows into Okanagan Lake were 2 1/2 times the normal amount for the period, according to Dave Campbell of the B.C. River Forecast Centre.

Kalamalka Lake had an elevation Wednesday of 392.44 metres above sea level, which is down from recent measurements. There’s little snow left in the mountains that feed Kalamalka Lake, and significant declines in its elevation are expected in the next few weeks. Across the Central Okanagan, however, flood protection measures remain in place or are even being fortified at several locations.

In Ontario, Paul Gauthier, Manager of Waterfront Operations for the Town of Cobourg sent in that “There is no doubt that high water has created many challenges for the marina industry all around Lake Ontario this year. Cobourg Marina is no different.  Our shore power and pumpout facilities are inoperable due to high water.”

He added that “Like the saying goes; every dark cloud has a silver lining. The high water has helped make it possible for the Canadian Navy ship HMCS Goosebay to make it into Cobourg Harbour.”

High Water Levels - Sand BagsHe sent us photos to share with you.

Nearby, Allison Wollacott from Port of Newcastle Marina told us that, “The town has assisted only with empty bags for us to fill with sand. Water levels are so high our gas dock is out of service. Business-wise, the charter vessels will not be happy, there is shoreline damage and many businesses are suffering loss of income. The hydro and water are still working on our floating docks, but part of the restaurant decks are “caution-taped” off. When will it let down?”

(Right) At Port of Newcastle Marina, the town has assisted only with empty bags for the marina staff to fill with sand.

We also heard from Craig Weekes, Manager of Marine Operations at Toronto’s  Harbourfront Centre. He told us that the marine staff are continuously evaluating areas of the site including their two marinas and boardwalks in an attempt to seek proactive solutions to rising water levels, power shut downs and to accommodate both commercial marine and marina tenants. Some of the things that were completed include:

  1. Removing dock access ramps that became inverted due to high water.
  2. Blocking off flooded areas and marking submerged land features.
  3. Lengthening anchor chains and securing docks with chain if they rise beyond pile and I beam holding devices.
  4. Reinstalling winter power lines and moving live-aboard boaters into those slips with power.
  5. Consulting with the Electrical Safety Authority and our electrical contractor re required power shut downs at both marinas and for tour and charter boats.
  6. Installing steps or risers to elevate ramps and gangways for both marinas and tour and charter boats.
  7. Sweeping up debris washing up on the Piers and boardwalks. Removing or reporting log sightings.
  8. Working with Charter and Tour boat operators to develop elevated catwalks for boarding passengers and docking vessels should water levels impact boardwalk operations.
  9. Relocating some vessels to locations with higher walls.
  10. Keeping up on Toronto Island access issues and impacts with City of Toronto Parks staff.
  11. Liaising with Ports Toronto re navigation notices and warnings.
  12. Keeping Marine EMS informed of vessel relocation and access issues.
  13. Communicating with severely impacted water taxi industry.

The added costs and work combined with greatly reduced business revenue will surely hurt many marinas and clubs in areas across Canada that have been hit with record water levels.

We hope your business is not severely impacted and that the coming weekend brings sun, warmer temperatures and a safe reduction in the water levels.

Andy Adams - Editor

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