Localized Flooding to be Expected During Heavy Rain Events

(December 13, 2018) 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. Despite these improvements, 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, says Dave Conway, Director of Engineering, 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.

In North Cowichan, there are three gaps within the diking system that accommodate roads: at Canada Avenue, the Trans-Canada Highway, and Lakes Road. There are procedures 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 Pinsons Corner (the intersection of Crofton Road and Chemainus Road). 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 arent working, says Mayor Al Siebring. This is absolutely not the case, but we havent 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.

North Cowichan has recently published some webpages with extensive information about its flood protection system so that interested community members can learn more: Flood Protection. Additionally, the CVRD has some great suggestions for flood preparedness on their website: Flood Smart.