Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, have issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) response in British Columbia:
"Today, we are announcing four new cases, for a total of 2,562 cases in British Columbia.
"There are 228 active cases of COVID-19 in the province and 2,170 people who tested positive have recovered.
"Of the total COVID-19 cases, 34 individuals are hospitalized, six of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.
"Every health region in British Columbia has patients with COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 900 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 1,277 in the Fraser Health region, 127 in the Island Health region, 195 in the Interior Health region and 63 in the Northern Health region.
"There have been no new COVID-19 related deaths in the last day, for a total of 164 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks. In total, 15 long-term care or assisted-living facilities and one acute-care unit have active outbreaks.
"Public health teams continue to provide support for community outbreaks at federal corrections facilities, the processing facilities in the poultry sector and for individuals connected to the Kearl Lake plant in Alberta.
"WorkSafeBC's COVID-19 guidance has been developed through a collaboration of public health and workplace experts. The comprehensive guidance balances creating opportunities to safely restart many activities and the ability to protect everyone as we do that.
Ahead of this weekend’s potential storm, the operator of Nicola Dam has notified Merritt City Hall of a gate change;
The City has received notice that a gate change will be made at the Nicola Lake dam this afternoon, to increase outflows from the dam by 2 cubic metres per second (cms). Residents should expect Nicola River water levels to rise ~2 inches overnight.
The decision to increase flows was made in conjunction with the City, in an effort to move as much water as possible before the storm hits on Saturday and into Sunday. We know that this extra water will cause further strain on residents, however, it will free up some capacity in Nicola Lake, which in turn reduces the likelihood and severity of potential flooding following the storm.
Since 2015 Stump Lake has risen approximately 15 feet.
The water has caused homes to flood and boathouses to be lost completely. The highway has been washed out and rebuilt multiple times, and even a rest stop outhouse to now sits completely submerged in water.
(Old Highway rest-stop outhouse now underwater)
Stump Lake has long relied on evaporation to keep the water at a safe level, however over the past number of years inflows have vastly exceeded evaporation. This year alone the water has already risen about three feet.
Doug West and Randy Bourne live on Stump Lake and have taken the mantle of looking for a solution to the problem currently damaging numerous properties.
“The most cost-effective solution would be to widen and deepen the existing creek which is down at the south end and removing that existing control structure,” said Randy. “That would keep the lake at a maximum level, probably about four to five feet below what its current level is.”
Randy and Doug believe the old control structure was built more than 75 years ago.
Randy admitted that the plan would have to account for those living downstream.
“We have to remove the water at a time when it wouldn’t impact anybody downstream, July, August, September, even into October you could let water out, probably right up into November wouldn’t be an impact on anyone,” said Randy.
“We have had some informal discussion with the Guichon Ranch. We were led to believe that there is one culvert that needs to be enlarged. I understand they need to pass the water through and not impact them. We do understand that there are structures that we need to be cognitive of and make sure there is no impact on them,” added Randy.
Randy and Doug have been speaking with anybody willing to listen and possibly help including the Thompson Nicola Regional District but stressed it’s time for action.
“Hopefully we can implement something relatively quickly. If nothing is done this year, next year you’re going to get another two or three feet at least, then you’ll see some real damage being done,” said Randy. “The quicker we get the solution, the quicker we get some water out of the lake this year, the better it will be for all of us on the lake.”
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
Here is the latest list of cancellations and postponements as of 6 a.m. on Friday May 29, 2020.
The City of Merritt has issued a potential flood warning for this weekend due to a forecasted storm system moving into the area.
“It is looking increasingly likely that a large rain/thunder storm will hit the Nicola basin on Saturday night into Sunday morning. There is uncertainty with forecasting weather this far in advance, but Environment Canada is warning that most basins in the Southern Interior will see 20-30mm of rain, with the potential for even more rain in localized areas,” wrote Sean Smith, EOC Information Officer.
Smith stressed this is not an evacuation alert, just a warning to residents.
“We are currently seeing the Upper Nicola River recede at a rate of about 3.6 cms per day. If that rate holds or increases leading up to the storm, there may be a brief moment where inflows to Nicola Lake match outflows and it may be possible to absorb the rain at the lake without seeing overland flooding through Merritt. However, if inflows don’t recede sufficiently before the storm, if the basin receives more rain than forecast, or if Mill Creek flows rise drastically following the storm, residents should expect to see a rise in river and groundwater levels that could cause flooding,” wrote Smith.
“We don’t have sufficient knowledge to make an accurate prediction at this time, but in the worst-case scenario, it is possible that river levels could rise by as much as 6-10 inches between Sunday, May 31 and Tuesday, June 2,” added Smith.
Sandbags remain available to residents at the Civic Centre and other locations around the City.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt