Workers from North Cowichan place sand bags to stem flooding along Canada Avenue during heavy rains last winter. (File photo)

North Cowichan warns localized flooding expected in some areas this winter

Flood protection system contains some natural gaps

The Municipality of North Cowichan is warning that residents could experience some flooding this winter.

Since the significant flood in 2009, North Cowichan and adjacent local governments have invested in protection of areas that are historically prone to flooding.

Over the last decade, existing dikes have been raised, new dikes constructed, new pump stations built, and gravel and log jams regularly removed from the Cowichan River.

But, despite these improvements, Dave Conway, North Cowichan’s director of engineering, said some localized flooding should still be expected in certain areas during heavy rain events.

“Our extensive flood protection system contains some natural gaps that are required for roads,” said Conway, whose team oversaw construction of the flood protection system within North Cowichan.

“In addition, there are a few creeks and streams outside of the diking and pumping system that are known to overflow during heavy rain and also cause localized flooding.”

Conway said that in North Cowichan, there are three gaps within the diking system that accommodate roads: at Canada Avenue, the Trans-Canada Highway, and Lakes Road.

RELATED STORY: SOME ROADS RE-OPENED AFTER FLOODING, CLOSURES IN COWICHAN

There are procedures are in place to systematically close these gaps if waters rise to a certain level.

In recent years, closures have been limited to Canada Avenue.

Known areas in North Cowichan where creeks and streams can be expected to overflow outside of the dike network include: Mary Street/Philip Street, Rosewood Avenue, Seine Road, and Pinson’s Corner (the intersection of Crofton Road and Chemainus Road).

Conway said other areas of the municipality may experience flooding for a myriad of reasons, including plugged culverts, plugged catch basins, and ditches that are at capacity.

“We want to get the word out about how our flood protection system works, because every year this localized flooding occurs, and every year we hear from folks who think this means our diking and pumping infrastructure aren’t working,” said Mayor Al Siebring.

“This is absolutely not the case, but we haven’t been very proactive about explaining how the system is intended to work, and we hope to change that. We want residents to know that some flooding is to be expected, and that our dikes and pump stations are doing their jobs.”

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