Friday, November 19, 2021
Sumas Lake and the Nooksack River
CTV is reoriotng that " In the hours before the Sumas Prairie flooded, the rain was coming down hard and fast in the Fraser Valley. However, experts say, the rain is not what put the prairie underwater. “A lot of that water is coming from spillover from the Nooksack (River),” said Dave Campbell, head of the B.C. River Forecast Centre. The Nooksack River flows north of Bellingham in Washington State. When it overflows, Campbell says, floodwater can end up in the Sumas River. From there, the water flows northeast, crossing the border into Abbotsford."
King 5 is reporting that "The east Sumas Prairie, which sits on a dried lake bed, continues to fill up with floodwaters from the Nooksack River. Braun said that waters from the Nooksack River continue to flow northeast over the U.S.-Canada border into the Sumas Prairie, the eastern two-thirds of which sits on the bed of a dried lake. (The Sumas Lake) The Barrowtown Pump Station, constructed for this very reason, continues to pump water from the east prairie into the Fraser River to the north at full capacity, but even at 500,000 gallons per minute, it has been unable to catch up to the amount of water coming in, Braun said."
They are referring to the Sumas lake. 100 years ago, Abbotsford had a lake. The Abbotsford News is reporting that "Sumas Lake was drained and the Vedder canal was built in the early 1920s, using a pump station to divert the lake’s in-flowing rivers for irrigation and allow European farmers to access the fertile soil. It was described as an engineering marvel at the time."
"Over the next 10 years, thousands of acres of some of the most productive farmland was created in the Lower Mainland. Barrowtown Pump Station was built in the early 1980s for $27 million. It’s the second busiest pump station in North America; four pump engines running full tilt can pump 500,000 gallons of water a minute."
"The Nooksack River breached in 1990, swamping the Whatcom Road interchange and the western portions of Sumas Prairie, and shutting down all traffic on Highway 1 for 26 hours The U.S. river carries water from Mount Baker to the Puget Sound near Bellingham, but when it breaches, the floodwater flows north towards the Sumas Prairie."
"An international task force was created after the 1990 event to try and prevent a future disaster from occurring, but was inactive from 2011 to 2018. It was called a one-in-35-year event. One 1995 study found that a larger “avulsion” flood event could change the course of the river permanently, diverting its flow north into the former Sumas Lake, draining into the Fraser River."
Unfortunately that international task force didn't do anything. We need better dykes and a secondary pump at the Barrowtown Pump Station. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
King 5 is reporting that "Flooded communities in Whatcom County are being warned of asbestos exposure from a decades-old landslide on Sumas Mountain. Swift Creek, located on the west side of the mountain, can carry the naturally-occurring asbestos from the landslide sediment when flooded. The Sumas River, which joins the creek, can also contain asbestos, according to the Whatcom County Health Department."
This is all due to climate change right? Not. "The Nooksack river currently supplies the nearby town of Glacier with hydroelectric power from a dam near Nooksack Falls on the North Fork. The Middle Fork was also partially blocked with a diversion dam built by the City of Bellingham in 1961 for diverting water into Lake Whatcom, Bellingham's drinking water supply. As of July 2020, this old water diversion system has been modified to remove the dam and restore the river channel for the benefit of critical salmon spawning habitat." B.C. has been warned for years of potential for key Sumas dike to fail
Even Post Media trash is citing a 2015 report that said the height of the Sumas dyke was unacceptable and was .6 meters below design. That was 5 years before the US got rid of the diversion dam built in the /50's to divert water from the Nooksack river to the Whatcom lake. When they got rid of that diversion dam in July 2020, that sent more water down the Nooksack river. The BC NDP are completely useless. We can all see that now.
The US claims they removed the diversion dam from the middle fork of the Nooksack river to restore 16 miles of fish habitat. That is true but me thinks the fact that it was also diverting some naturally occurring asbestos from Mount Baker into their drinking water at Whatcom lake might have also had something to do with it. Either way, more water is coming from the Nooksack so we need to build a higher dyke and get a second pump.