The area along the Fraser River will be closely watched by Langley Township staff as the annual spring freshet approaches. And while numerous precautions are being taken and a comprehensive plan is in place, it is not expected that the rising water will pose a problem to north Langley communities this year.
However, if it does, there will be advance warning and the public will be kept well informed.
“Flooding is the worst case scenario, and right now we are far away from even a danger of that happening,” said Township Manager of Roads and Drainage Terry Veer. “However, we are closely monitoring the situation and should that change, we have a plan in place, as we do every year.”
Although water levels are currently only at 3.2 metres, the Township is consulting with provincial and diking authorities and local emergency services to ensure preparations are made in well in advance. On May 15, Fire Chief Stephen Gamble and Langley RCMP Sgt. Tom James joined Langley Emergency Coordinator Ginger Sherlock and Township Engineering staff for a tour of the dikes and infrastructure designed to prevent the Fraser River from overflowing its banks.
Every year, a freshet occurs in late May and early June when snow packs on the mountains melt and the water runs off into local rivers. Earlier this month, snow packs on the mountains draining into the Fraser River Basin were determined to be 129% higher than average. But that is less than the elevated snow pack levels experienced in 2007, which caused heightened concern but did not result in flooding in Langley.
“It all depends on the weather,” said Township Manager of Water Resources and Environment Kevin Larsen. “If there are extended periods of very high temperatures or wet weather, the water level will rise more quickly. If the snow pack melts consistently over the next month and a half, there should not be a problem. We can’t predict the future but we are ready for whatever comes.”
The Township has a multi-phased Flood Response Plan that is guided by reports from the provincial Ministry of Environment. Right now, resources and the roles of various personnel are being reviewed, preliminary inspections of the dikes are being undertaken, and remedial work is being done.
As well, the river level is remotely monitored through a sensor that is continuously observed by Township staff.
Weekly dike patrols will be implemented when the river level rises to 4.9 metres on the upstream gauge at Mission. They will increase to daily patrols at 5.5 metres. Should the water rise to 6.7 metres, dikes will be patrolled 24 hours a day.
As the freshet progresses, residents are encouraged to visit the Township’s website at tol.ca for more information.
In the unlikely event that the river may overflow, the Township will activate its Information Hotline at 604-514-HELP. Recorded messages will be provided on a regular basis to keep residents up-to-date on the situation and informed about what is to be expected.