Flood threat jumps on Birkenhead River 

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Thanks to hot weather, the freshet flood threat along the Birkenhead River has accelerated in recent days, with risks to Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and Lil'wat Nation properties, as well as Highway 99.

The SLRD has activated its Emergency Operations Centre in response.

The Lillooet River had risen around a metre in just a couple of days of 32-degree Celsius heat, but was not a problem, Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said at the village's council meeting of May 7. The Birkenhead River was another matter.

"The Birkenhead is up half a metre and unfortunately the nature of the river is that it is perched up, higher than the ground around it, so potentially if we end with more water... the next three, four days is going to be critical in terms of whether it is going to breach the dike or not," Sturdy said.

Work agreed upon by the SLRD, the Lil'wat Nation and provincial and federal agencies to ease the jamming and realign the flow of the Birkenhead was carried out over one day in April and has been completed.

Sturdy said the freshet melt itself could, if all went well, further realign the river and make it less likely to flood. "It might be just the thing we need to have the river retrain itself," he said.

A release from the SLRD said they were working with the Lil'wat Nation and the Pemberton Valley Diking District on a response to the emergency. Residents and business in the immediately vicinity of the river have been asked to have a flood preparedness plan ready.

More information is available from the SLRD office or can be found at www.embc.gov.bc.ca/em/floods/preparedness.html.

People with concerns, or those requiring access to sandbags, are asked to contact Ryan Wainwright, SLRD Emergency Program Manager, at (604) 698-6442 or by email at rwainwright@slrd.bc.ca.

The SLRD will continue to post updates on the SLRD website: www.slrd.bc.ca. The SLRD Emergency Program is also on Twitter: @SLRD_Emergency.


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