The District of Kent will now be closing its floodgates outside the the traditional freshet season, as high river flows in the rest of the year have become an increasing concern.
During Monday’s council meeting (March 22), Kent council approved a new floodgate closure policy that will see the gates closed when water levels get too high no matter what time of year. Before, floodgates were only closed during the spring freshet, when high water levels made increased flooding a concern.
According to director of engineering Mick Thiessen, the floodgates have needed to be closed and reopened only a few times in the past year, but “in more recent year’s we’ve had to look at closing them because of the higher more sustained freshet,” he said.
Mayor Sylvia Pranger noted that the district has already seen the first snowpack report for 2021, which shows similar levels to 2020. Last year, the District of Kent issued a flood warning for properties outside the dike system after the Fraser River reached its highest level in eight years.
“We’re praying that (we have) good weather so it comes down gradually rather than in one fell swoop,” she said.
The district has maintained a “default-open position” for its floodgates to maximize fish access to the waterways off the river. Closing the floodgates helps to minimize back flow and flooding in local areas, but it is also very expensive. Closing a floodgate takes three staff members around four hours to complete, with a labour cost of around $600.
Moving forward, the district floodgates will be closed whenever the gauge closest to the gate reads 20cm above the shut off valve for the closest pump and water levels are expected to remain constant or increase for at least 48 hours, regardless of the time of year.
The gates will be reopened when the water level is the same or lower than the shut off valve and is expected to remain that way for the foreseeable future. Gates must remain closed for at least 48 hours.