The City of Courtenay has acquired a new piece of equipment that can be used in flood control efforts. Called an aqua dam, workers tested the water-filled, portable device Thursday on the Old Island Highway between Ryan and Headquarters roads near the Puntledge Business District — the epicentre of last December’s storm.
In the event of a flood, the metre-high dam will create a barrier, protecting up to two-thirds the height of the aqua dam.
“You’ve got water basically holding back water,” CAO David Allen said. “Once it gets up to two-thirds you’re at your max in terms of what it will hold back. But that’s still two feet, which is quite a bit compared to what we had on the road in some spots (last winter). We had maybe a foot or so.”
The City has one trailer with 440 metres worth of aqua dam in different sections, and another trailer on order. If flooding occurs, the trailers can be deployed in the low spots identified in flood mitigation mapping.
“Hopefully we dodge a bullet this year,” Allen said.
The dam, trailers, pumps and other pieces of equipment are worth about $100,000, purchased with federal gas tax funds.
Other flood control measures will include a manhole blocking system to prevent water from surging back into the drainage system from the river.
“It’s like a big bladder,” Allen said. “Eventually we’ll get valves that have backflow prevention devices on them.”
Public works crews have also begun stockpiling sandbags, to be staged and deployed if necessary.
Last winter’s storm was the largest-ever flood to hit Courtenay. The Fifth Street Bridge and several roads were closed, as was the Lewis Centre, the LINC Youth Centre and the Airpark. Homes and businesses near the Tsolum, Puntledge and Courtenay rivers were evacuated.