Sophie Smith, left, and Greta Borick-Cunningham of the Alouette River Management Society tie a footbridge around a tree to prevent it from floating off durning a controlled spill in the south Alouette on Thursday. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

UPDATE: Alert issued for South Alouette River

River is flowing high due to a controlled release from the Alouette Dam.

  • Nov. 22, 2017 8:25 p.m.

Homeowners along the South Alouette River are on flood watch following a week of monsoon rains, which led B.C. Hydro to release water from the Alouette Lake reservoir on Wednesday.

Hydro issued a flood alert for the South Alouette River on Wednesday.

As of Thursday, the alert remains in place, said Fred Armstrong, with the City of Maple Ridge.

“What we’re waiting for more is more information on their [Hydro’s] flood models for the controlled release from the dam and what the potential impacts are.”

That update was due late Thursday.

The city posted the alert on its website, advising people the river levels are high.

“There is a possibility of flooding on Friday which may cause road closures and impact properties. Water levels and weather forecasts are being monitored by B.C. Hydro and B.C. Hydro will advise the city when further information is available,” according to the alert.

Armstrong said that, so far, there have been no reports of flooding along the North and South Alouette Rivers. The break in the constant rain on Thursday has seen water levels drop – but more rain is expected in the next few days.

Mora Scott of B.C. Hydro said releasing water from the reservoir isn’t unexpected during the current weather conditions.

“We’ve been managing the reservoir level closely, including proactively diverting water to the Stave Reservoir and pre-spilling to the Alouette River. This is not uncommon – we manage reservoir levels over the course of the year and in many cases, reduce the likelihood of downstream flooding.”

More rain is expected in the next few days which could increase Hydro’s spillage into the river and cause flooding on Friday, as well as some road closures, according to the city.

So far this month, there’s been 213 millimetres of rain recorded at Pitt Meadows airport. Half of that has fallen in the last four days.

Ross Davies, with Kanaka Education and Environmental Protection Society and who lives on the South Alouette, said the river is “rip-snorting,” but so far hasn’t breached its banks. But he doubts there will be a major flood.

“If I was a betting man, I would say we probably won’t get there. The Pineapple Express is done.”

Meanwhile, it’s supposed to cool down.

“If the forecast holds true, we should be OK.”

But people have to watch the weather, because things can change in half a day, he added.

Greta Borick-Cunningham, with the Alouette River Management Society, said the South Alouette has climbed about half a metre and gone over its banks near the hatchery in Allco Park.

“The water is doing what it’s doing. It’s a controlled spill. It’s not uncommon,” she added.

“It’s just a matter of making sure people know.”

She said the current discharge down the river is at 40 cubic metres per second and peak discharge is forecasted to be twice that.

People should watch for ponding water on roads, localized flooding and drive carefully.

“Please be careful around streams and rivers as flow rates will be increased due to rain volumes,” the society said online.

According to Hydro, a flood alert is issued when water is released through the dam’s spillway at a rate that may overtop the river banks and impact property and life safety, with some flooding of residential areas downstream anticipated.

Posted by Alouette River Management Society on Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Hydro is recommending giving some forethought to making preparations to protect property and possibly making alternative accommodations if they should be required.

Flood safety checklist:

Sudden and heavy rainfalls can pose a serious risk. Localized flooding can occur when water is unable to drain away, river levels may rise quickly and become dangerously fast, roads may become impassible, and combined with warm temperatures, melting snow pack can develop into landslides and debris flows on mountain sides and steep gullies:

• build or restock your emergency preparedness kit;

• ensure roof gutters are clear and storm drains are free of debris such as leaves;

• if you face a threatening flood situation, park vehicles away from streams and waterways, move electrical appliances to upper floors and make sure to anchor fuel supplies. Listen to local officials if you are asked to evacuate;

• avoid getting close to fast moving water as banks may erode without warning;

• keep a close eye on children and pets as they may not understand the dangers;

• plan alternate routes before driving in the event that low lying roads become flooded, and slow down and

provide yourself with extra time;

• never drive through moving water, even if you are familiar with the road, as a vehicle can be swept away in as little as 30 centimetres of water.

• See mapleridge.ca or facebook.com/yourmapleridge/ for updates.

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(Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS) Sophie Smith and Greta Borick-Cunningham of the Alouette River Management Society tie a footbridge around a tree to prevent it from floating off during a controlled spill in the South Alouette River on Thursday.

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