Dike building continues in Kelowna as lake level continues to rise

The dike building continued Wednesday along some of the downtown Kelowna area waterfront as the level of Okanagan lake continues to rise.

South of the floating bridge, skid-steers are being used to fill large baskets with beach sand. On the north side, flood protection is provided by water-filled bladder dams.

“Little nervous,” said lakefront homeowner Chuck Webb. “But it’s all you can do. They’ve done a great job and are working hard. I think they’ve done all they can now it’s wait and see.”

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Some dock owners have been placing sandbags or large barrels filled with water on top of the structures.

“We’re hoping there’s enough weight on the dock that if it starts to float a bit, it will be enough to keep it down,” said dock owner Rick Sentes. “I’ve never seen the water this high.”

At the outlet dam in Penticton, provincial officials can release enough water to lower the lake by about 11 centimetres a week. But in each of the past two weeks the lake has been rising by about three times that amount. It continues to rise but the rate has slowed in recent days.

“We’re banking on this continuing for several weeks, said Central Okanagan Emergency Operations spokesperson Bruce Smith. “And given the rise every day on Okanagan Lake the potential is there for flooding.”

But it all depends on Mother Nature.

“We can’t do much about temperatures, which precipitates the run-off, and also what comes out of the sky in the meantime,” said lakefront homeowner Fred Behrner. “So we need this water to be going down south out of the lake.”

So while they hope for the weather to cooperate, and while the dike construction continues, flood-threatened Kelowna residents wait and wonder what’s to come.

“We’re just keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the best,” said Behrner.

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