Some roads, such as on 224th Street, were blocked on Friday. (Phil Melnychuk – THE NEWS)

The rains stopped just in time in Maple Ridge

Record flows into Alouette Reservoir during January

It’s never poured so much in the rainforest around the Alouette Reservoir, says BC Hydro.

In fact, January was the wettest month on record, with about 800 millimetres of rain falling, twice the average precipitation for that month, according to Hydro’s metereologist.

January also saw record the highest inflows (from streams and creeks) into the reservoir, ever recorded.

That miserable month ended Friday, Jan. 31 when near epic rains, 111.8 mm, dumped at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.

“I think it’s a really good reminder that we do have really strong rain events. We can have rain, on rain, on rain. We can have several storm systems come in and we have a huge bath tub right above us,” said Greta Borick-Cunningham, executive-director with the Alouette River Management Society.

Read more: Do not go near the Alouette River, B.C. Hydro warns

Borick-Cunningham said the storm had less impact than the one in 1995, noting that it stopped raining Saturday, although there was some localized flooding. The rainfall though saw water in the reservoir spill over the free-crest part of the dam and down the spillway and into the South Alouette River, something hasn’t happened since 1995.

The torrents of rain seem to have subsided, just one step short of disaster.

“But if there had been another storm coming in behind that one, it would have been a lot worse, for sure,” she added.

She just wants to ensure that as much land preserved as ecologically sensitive areas so that it can absorb flood waters and protect property downstream.

Coun. Ahmed Yousef helped out local businesses with sandbagging along 136th Avenue and 224th Street where flooding is common.

Friday night was a scary time as the water level kept rising. “At a certain point, it really started to get terrifying,” he said.

Then, at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, the water levels started receding. “We dodged quite a bullet on that one.”

Read more: Maple Ridge conservation group takes legal action against city

The scenario could have been worse had the rains not stopped and the river level kept rising, he added.

Jesse Stretch at Golden Ears Auto, on 136th Avenue, said the water was flowing through his shop 60 centimetres deep at some points. He said his building is OK but the pavement needs repairing and said he’ll need a few days to get back to a regular schedule in a few days.

“I’ve never seen it like this before,” he said Monday. “It was something else.”

During the high water, two members of the Alouette River Management Society checked out the location on 240th Street on the south side of the South Alouette River where city council, last April, gave three readings to a 26-unit housing development.

The group opposes the 20-acre development on the flood plain, and is concerned about effects on wildlife and stormwater runoff from roads and houses on salmon habitat.

Borick-Cunningham said the water was higher in that area during Friday’s heavy rains but it didn’t flood extensively. However, if the topography was changed or the river bank altered to deflect flood waters, that could have an impact downstream, she added.

“The area south of the river, is doing its job. It’s absorbing the water,” she said.

ARMS is seeking a judicial review of council’s decision to give three readings to the project.

Yousef was one of the minority on council who voted against the development, saying Monday that he didn’t support building in an area where nature was going to take its course.



pmelnychuk@mapleridgenews.com

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