Anderson Lake set for flood prevention work 

Higher-than-normal water levels caused by debris flow last September

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - FLOOD MANAGEMENT The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District has been given the green light to mitigate flooding concerns at Anderson Lake.
  • File photo
  • FLOOD MANAGEMENT The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District has been given the green light to mitigate flooding concerns at Anderson Lake.

The water is rising at Anderson Lake, and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) is taking steps to prevent flooding.

The SLRD has been given the green light by Emergency Management BC to correct some problems caused by a debris flow in September 2015.

"We're still sorting out the final details with BC Water Stewardship, but it looks like we'll be removing some of the gravel that came down and is creating a choke point under the bridge there on Anderson Lake Road," said Ryan Wainwright, the SLRD's emergency program manager, on April 22.

"We'll also be shaving back some of the debris on the north bank on the mouth of the river to widen the inlet."

The project is classified as an emergency response, meaning the funding will be provided by the province.

"We can't reengineer the whole channel or any of that sort of thing, but what we can do is make sure that we reduce the water level in Anderson Lake enough that we should, all things going well, prevent flooding for this freshet season," Wainwright said.

"I think that folks around the lake, including all the communities that are there, are going to be really relieved to see it come down, and we'll be watching it closely to make sure that what we've done is appropriate and effective over the medium term here as we watch the freshet kind of roll through."

The work is scheduled to take place in a single day on April 29, Wainwright said.

A massive rain event on Sept. 20, 2015 caused "multiple concurrent emergencies" across the region, according to the SLRD.

"The community of Seton Portage was severely impacted by a debris flow that blocked the Seton River, impeding drainage from Anderson Lake," said an SLRD release.

"A state of local emergency (as well as several evacuation orders and alerts) was issued. The Seton Lake Indian Band (Tsal'ah) and community of Shalalth were also impacted."

During those events, the water levels in Anderson Lake rose by about one metre — and stayed there.

The regional district began working with the province in December 2015 to find a solution to the issue.

The news that the work is about to take place comes as a relief to residents in the area, who have been raising concerns with various levels of government for months.

The problem at Anderson Lake involved the SLRD, local First Nation councils, BC Water Stewardship, Emergency Management BC, two provincial MLAs and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans — which slowed the response somewhat.

"One of the interesting things I've learned during this process is that there are a number of overlapping jurisdictions with something like this, and so each agency has its own interests to represent, and when they're in conflict it does add friction to the process," said SLRD chair Jack Crompton.

MLA Jordan Sturdy said he and counterpart Jackie Tegart of the Fraser-Nicola riding will be looking to provide some clarity around the preferred response should similar situations arise in the future.

"This isn't going to be the last debris flow that we're going to see, either in the Sea to Sky or the greater area," Sturdy said.

"Clearly we do live in a rather dynamic environment, and it's inevitable that it will happen again, so it's good to understand what is the policy here."

Residents with questions or concerns can contact Wainwright at 604-698-6442 or rwainwright@slrd.bc.ca.

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