NEWS

Okanagan dam breach prompts evacuation alert

05/11/2012 05:13 EDT | Updated 07/11/2012 05:12 EDT

Warm weather and spring melt has prompted another evacuation alert in the South Okanagan.

People living in 11 homes in the Regal Ridge subdivision on Anarchist Mountain, just east of Osoyoos, B.C., have been told to be ready to leave on a moment's notice, after two dams on a water reservoir breeched their banks.

Dale Kronebusch , emergency services supervisor for the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, says dam inspectors found five unapproved dams along the reservoir.

He says the dams are on private property and lack proper engineering to handle any overflow.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Rescource Operations says the water reservoir is unlicensed and unapproved.

It was not part of the rapid dam inspection undertaken by the province following the Testalinden dam failure that destroyed 5 homes near Oliver, B.C. in June, 2009.

A spokeswoman said the ministry was unaware the reservoir and dams existed until Thursday when staff did a helicopter fly over of the area during a routine dam assessment. Inspectors then went in to examine the reservoir and are working to secure it.

Kronebusch also notes that Okanagan Lake is draining at full capacity and that could cause potential flooding in areas close to the Okanagan River, including Oliver.

The latest evacuation alert is in addition to one still in effect in the community of Tulameen, north of Princeton, where high water levels on Otter Lake have flooded dozens of basements.

The entire community of 2,000 people has been on evacuation alert since April 25.

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