WATCH: There are dozens of worried home and property owners who live on Sproat Lake in the Alberni Valley. The waters are rising and the rain is continuing to fall. Some homes and properties are starting to flood. It’s especially upsetting for those who went through flooding just one year ago and they’re wondering what if anything can be done to lower the level of the lake. Kendall Hanson reports.
Terri St. Jacques knows this sinking feeling well.
Just last year her waterfront home on Sproat Lake, west of Port Alberni, flooded.
It took nine months to process her insurance claim and now, there’s already water in her crawl space again. She is worried her situation will get much worse.
“We’re hoping and praying we don’t get that much rain,” said St. Jacques.
Flooding hit more than 100 properties on Sproat Lake last year. If there is flooding this month, it will be the third time in just four years. Prior to that, there hadn’t been flooding since 1992. St. Jacques believes not enough is being done to protect her and her neighbours.
“We need everything done possible done to mitigate the level of the lake and that is the weirs need to be pulled and the sweeps need to be done. They need to be done every year and they’ve had a year to work on this and they haven’t done it,” said St. Jacques.
This is the sweep that’s become a logjam of sorts. It’s believed it’s keeping water in Sproat Lake from going down Sproat River. There are also plates in the river that the Catalyst Paper mill installed years ago. It used to remove them in the fall and reinstall them in the spring. They haven’t in recent years but did remove one earlier this month.
Sproat Lake’s Regional Director admits trying to tame floodwaters is a complex issue.
“Climate change? Is it logging? Is is creeks rising so fast?” asks Penny Cote, the regional representative on the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional Board. “Is it the blockage on the river? What is it?”
The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District is doing a hydrology study to determine what can be done.
Bob Cole has lived on the lake most of his life.
He and a neighbour are bagging sand to protect what they can on their properties.
Cole believes another factor may be that the Catalyst Paper mill is not drawing as much water from the lake as it used to.
“They’re leaving 25 million imperial gallons a day in the lake that they used to draw out at this time of year,” said Cole.
As authorities look for long-term solutions, Cole and his neighbours on Sproat Lake are dealing with a more urgent issue, as they watch the waters levels rise again this year.