Houston residents can now breathe a sigh of relief as floodwaters start to recede.
According to Gerald Pinchbeck, Houston’s Chief Administrative Officer, water levels have been dropping as the snowpack in the basin is being depleted.
“Further rises in water levels are not anticipated,” he told Houston Today.
Groundwater pumps, which had been deployed to discharge groundwater from residential areas into the Bulkley River, have now been removed as water levels recede.
With snowmelt runoff reaching a peak last week, rivers were expected to be vulnerable to rainfall events. Municipal staff continued to monitor water levels and river flows over the long weekend, even though there was a low probability of precipitation in Houston.
As of Thursday, the B.C. River Forecast Centre was still maintaining its flood warning for the Bulkley River, including tributaries around Houston, Smithers and adjacent areas. The warning means that river levels have “exceeded bankfull or will exceed bankfull imminently, and that flooding of areas adjacent to the rivers affected will result.”
“Residents are advised to avoid approaching or entering waters under a high streamflow, flood watch, or flood warning advisory, and to refrain from walking onto dikes and riverbanks,” said Pinchbeck.
As of May 15, the Bulkley River near Houston was flowing at 227 cubic metres per second and was receding. Risks of additional snowmelt related rises in level was being reduced. The Bulkley River near Smithers, on the other hand, was flowing at 1163 cubic metres per second and was still rising as of May 15.
The District of Houston worked around the clock over the past couple of weeks to ensure that flooding had minimal impact to local residents. Municipal staff were being deployed on shifts to ensure groundwater pumps operated without interruption, and that freeboard remained on the local dikes. Sand and sandbags were also delivered to residents who requested them.
Last month authorities warned of potential flooding across the province, with snow melting rapidly as temperatures soared. The unseasonably hot weather comes after a long winter that has left a heavy snowpack in its wake.
Questions about local flooding issues should be referred to the District of Houston office at 250-845-2238 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. In case of an emergency, residents should call 911 or the district’s on-call staff at 250-845-8591.
The B.C. River Forecast Centre will continue to monitor conditions and update this advisory as conditions warrant.