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City News & Public Notices

Posted on: May 25, 2018

Media Release: City continues to monitor rising Kootenay Lake Levels


May 25, 2018

For Immediate Release

The City of Nelson continues to monitor rising Kootenay Lake levels; City crews work to mitigate impact of potential flooding

Nelson, BC - Warmer seasonal temperatures coupled with natural inflows of a significantly above average snow pack have brought about higher than normal lake levels. Predictions of lake levels provided by FortisBC on May 25th forecast an increase to exceed 1753 feet (534.3 meters) at Queens Bay by the end of May. Fire Chief Len MacCharles says that “In 2012, the lake reached the highest level since 1974 at 1753.8 ft (534.58 meters), and it is likely we will see similar lake levels this year”. “The City has taken a number of proactive steps since 2012 to help minimize the impacts of high water but we will still see some impacts.  Our primary goals right now are public safety and protection of property and the environment.” 

It is anticipated that lake levels in Nelson could rise another 12 -18 inches from their current level with the peak expected between next Wednesday May 30th and Friday June 1st. However Chief MacCharles says, “Things can change quickly, especially if we see a heavy rainfall either in Nelson or in our watersheds over the next few weeks.” For safety, the City is asking everyone to stay away from the lakeshore and along the banks of creeks until the water recedes. 

City staff have observed that the natural wave action is eroding sections of the dog walk. As the water rises more areas that are normally high and dry will be prone to erosion. We are asking that boaters maintain “no wake” speed all along the lake to avoid damaging the unprotected shoreline and personal property.

The Supervisor of Parks and Public Works, Craig Stanley, reports that, “We’re assessing the sports fields at Lakeside Park frequently. We’ve met with the user groups and RDCK recreation management staff, to let them know we could be required to the close fields with minimal notice. If we do close the fields, we would inform the user groups and the community of the closure through email, the City’s website (, and social media. “Plans to reschedule games to other venues have been discussed with the user groups.


“Council would like to reassure residents and businesses that although lake levels are expected to rise in the coming week, we don’t anticipate any disruption to traffic flow down Lakeside Drive”, says Mayor Kozak. She adds “Our small business owners rely on all of us to support them and we encourage residents and visitors to shop at their favourite stores along Lakeside Drive and Hall Street. It is business as usual. “

Public Safety:

  • Stay away from the lake shoreline
  • Stay away from creek banks 
  • Remove personal property near creeks 
  • Don’t walk or drive through standing or flowing water
  • Be cautious when boating – there is a lot of debris in water and water remains very cold
  • Call 911 for all emergencies

Public areas currently or expected to be impacted by predicted lake levels:

  • Dog walk between Prestige Lakeside Resort and west end of Airport (Currently Closed)
  • Kootenay  Launch Club parking adjacent to Prestige Lakeside Resort 
  • Sports Fields and Pathway near Lakeside Park
  • Tramway Car Barn / Tramway 
  • John’s Walk pathway
  • There may be other areas affected depending on extent of lake levels

Some of the actions taken by City staff to mitigate the impacts of flooding in Nelson:

  • Activated Nelson Emergency Operations Centre to monitor creek and lake levels and to coordinate mitigation and response needs
  • Ongoing checking and clearing obstructions and blockages from over 60 culverts, creek crossings and priority catch-basins two to three times daily to reduce the risk of overland flooding
  • Ongoing monitoring of water levels and impacts at various locations,  participating in information sessions with EMBC, BC Hydro, FortisBC and US Corp of Engineers
  • Placement of sandbags at key locations throughout the city
  • Sand and bags placed under Orange bridge for public use
  • Completed flushing and debris removal from key locations in the stormwater system including the Duck Bay outfall.
  • Sealing of dozens of sanitary manholes along lakeside that are susceptible to inflow of stormwater/floodwater.  Sealing the manhole pick-holes reduces the potential for water to enter the system that can impact the integrity of the wastewater treatment plant and can reduce the risk of basement flooding
  • Met with sports field users and RDCK recreation staff, Streetcar Society, Prestige Resort + Marina, Columbia Wireless, Kootenay Launch Club, High Terrain to discuss the impact of high lake levels
  • As an ongoing project the City typically completes approximately 3 km of sanitary sewer lining via trenchless methods each year.  This lining not only restores the structural integrity of the pipes but reduces the infiltration of groundwater and stormwater into the sanitary sewer system that can have a negative impact on the wastewater treatment plant.  
  • Engaged an engineering consultant to undertake a shoreline erosion and needs assessment. This work will identify shoreline improvements that can reduce the impact of high water damage on the Nelson shoreline. 
  • SNC Lavalin Flood Risk Assessment, Flood Mapping and Flood Mitigation Planning for the City  - Report due for completion December 2018
  • Initial flood mapping review to identify impacts at various lake levels


City of Nelson: (includes information on flood preparedness)

Kootenay Lake Levels: 

Flood Preparedness and Sandbagging Tips: 

Media Contact:

Len MacCharles, Fire Chief – (250) 352-3103


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