District of Vanderhoof officials are keeping close tabs on the Nechako River and the risk of flooding this spring.
Regional District of Bulkley Nechako chair and District of Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen said while so far spring snow melt conditions have been favourable, caution and preparedness will be key.
“We’re watching very closely,” Thiessen said. “We’re working with Rio Tinto with the Nechako reservoir and the B.C. River Forecast Centre right now just to keep our eye on any flood risk but at this point we’re still OK.”
Thiessen said typically if there is flooding it occurs toward the end of May and early June.
The B.C. River Forecast Centre virtual map, as of Friday, May 7, showed no abnormal return period for streamflow on the Nechako River, however, earlier in the week had previously noted returns were at the two- to five-year mark.
“The fortunate thing for us is a couple weeks ago we hit like 20C there for a day and it was just beautiful weather, so that really got rid of a lot of the snow on the low-lying areas.”
The Nechako reservoir, however, is roughly two-and-a-half feet higher than average currently, and about four feet higher than it was a year ago, he said.
“If we see that’s a possibility we’ll be sandbagging and getting gabions out and things like that,” he said. “We’re trying to be aware of where everything is, and we’re definitely more prepared than we were in 2015 when we had the last major flood but, to us, we need the Province and Rio Tinto to work with us to make sure we’re more prepared in the future.”
Currently, the walking trail from the boat launch to the community garden in Vanderhoof is flooded, however, Thiessen said no homes he is aware of are currently in danger of flooding.
“We were really concerned earlier this week and we were thinking today [May 7] we could be at a very high rate getting close to 500 cubic metres per second but it appears it has subsided a lot,” he said.