The Village of Lumby is pointing fingers over flooding as the threat of legal action washes in.
Mayor Kevin Acton is demanding the Regional District of North Okanagan do more to manage flows on Duteau Creek as high water becomes a problem.
“The creek has been flooding into people’s property,” he told the RDNO board Wednesday.
“We have been threatened with a lawsuit. People are talking class action lawsuit.”
While the village is the official diking authority, Acton insists RDNO controls water flow on Duteau Creek as part of Greater Vernon’s water utility.
“The village has no authority over water going through the community,” he said.
Flooding is related to excessive snowmelt spilling over RDNO’s reservoirs on the Aberdeen Plateau.
However, Acton says RDNO should have let water out of the reservoirs a month ago, when the creek level was low, to make sure there was room in the reservoirs for snowmelt and to avoid flooding downstream.
“Lumby is in a situation where we may have to invest money in lawyers and repairs and it comes from the controls on Duteau Creek,” he said.
However, RDNO officials say they can’t let water out of the reservoirs early, because, depending on weather conditions over the next few months, that water may be needed for domestic supply this summer.
“If you direct us to manage the reservoirs for flood control, we will run out of water early,” said Trafford Hall, administrator.
Snowmelt spilling over the reservoirs and into the creek is a natural process.
“We’re not actually increasing or decreasing the flow,” said Dale McTaggart, general manager of engineering, referring to a managed system.
There has been some suggestion of possibly increasing the height of the Aberdeen Lake reservoir to expand water supply. If that were to occur in the future, there could also be room for potential flood water.
Little sympathy came from Acton’s counterparts.
“This isn’t the first year it has flooded,” said director Doug Dirk.
Acton is not impressed with the response he is getting from RDNO.
“Immediate property damage or run out of water? I will take run out of water. There are other options (for drinking water), like Kalamalka Lake,” he said.
Acton says the regional district must be responsible for protecting private property and take action when property is damaged.
“If you want to control the water and set it aside for future use, you need to do it safely,” he said.