As the levels of lakes and rivers are subsiding, work is shifting gears from emergency response to the recovery phase.
In Enderby, a contractor will be picking up used sandbags from residences in order to dispose of them at the landfill. Residents are asked to place any sandbags they would like disposed at the end of their driveway by 8 a.m. Friday, June 30 and contact city hall by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 28 to register their property to be included on the pickup route. There is no charge for this pickup service, call 250-838-7230 or e-mail email@example.com.
Alternatively, residents can dispose of sandbags by transporting them to a Regional District of North Okanagan landfill, where loads of sandbags or sand will be accepted free of charge as long as they are not mixed with any other substance, garbage or recycling materials. Customers delivering sandbags to the Greater Vernon, Armstrong/Spallumcheen or Lumby landfills are required to place the bags or sand in designated locations at each of the sites. Burlap sandbags and plastic sandbags will be stockpiled separately.
But not everyone is urged to remove flood protection measures just yet.
Okanagan Lake dropped 4.2 centimetres to 343.098 metres above sea level overnight Monday, compared to 343.140 metres on June 23. While local lakes have declined slowly over the last week, Okanagan Lake remains 62 centimetres above full pool so waves are still a concern. Kalamalka Lake dropped 4.4 centimetres to 392.281 metres above sea level.
Property owners along the lakeshore should keep flood protection measures in place and routinely assess and bolster flood protection as needed. Residents can visit www.cordemergency.ca/map to find locations of pre-filled sandbags, sandbags and sand.
Crews are now working to remove protective measures on IR #7 and Middle Vernon Creek. The Emergency Operations Center is looking at all other public and private areas to determine risk and priority based on lake levels, land elevation and wind patterns. A plan based on level of risk and priorities is expected to be released later this week. High use public areas will take priority over private property for removal of protective measures.
Under no circumstances should sandbags be emptied on beaches or into any creeks, wetland, beaches or other watercourses as outlined in the Water Sustainability Act. The impact can destroy fish habitat and affect drinking water, infrastructure, flood control, navigation and recreational activities. Report violations to Natural Resource at 1-877-952-7277, (Option 2) toll-free or #7277 on a cellphone.
There are several options to dispose of the sandbags used during the 2017 flooding event once the threat of flood is over. Some sandbags may be considered slightly contaminated with either flood water, spills or unknown sand source, therefore disposal at an approved location or regional landfill is the best choice. Alternatively, if the sandbags have not beenexposed to flood water and the source of the sand is known to be uncontaminated, the bags could be emptied onto your private property well away from water bodies, parks, publicland and environmentally sensitive ecosystems.