Military to stay in Yukon to assist with flood mitigation as water levels drop

·2 min read
A photo of a berm built by Canadian Forces members on Marsh Lake. Water levels in the territory are beginning to drop.  (Canadian Army/Twitter - image credit)
A photo of a berm built by Canadian Forces members on Marsh Lake. Water levels in the territory are beginning to drop. (Canadian Army/Twitter - image credit)

Yukon officials sounded a confident note on Tuesday during a press conference on the state of flooding in the territory as water levels in the Southern Lakes and in Lake Laberge begin to go down.

Though Bennett, Tagish and Marsh lakes are currently all above their peak 2007 water levels, things are improving, said Holly Goulding, a senior hydrologist with the water resources branch of the Yukon Government.

"Water levels on the Southern Lakes have been dropping since last weekend," she said.

Water levels on Lake Laberge are also on their way down, Goulding said, with "outflows from lakes now exceeding inflows."

Laberge has dropped by 2 centimetres, though it remains 40 centimetres above 2007 levels.

Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn said yesterday that he had successfully requested that the support from the Canadian Armed Forces be extended.

"With up to another two weeks in the deployment, we are confident we will stave off the worst of this unprecedented climate-change-caused natural disaster," he wrote in a post on Facebook.

With the typical peak water date for the Southern Lakes still a ways off, CAF members will continue to help with sandbagging and berm construction.

Mila Milojevic from Yukon Energy says it's still not clear how high the lakes could get next month.

She said the amount of rain the territory gets will be critical in determining that, saying that somewhere like Marsh Lake could end up being anywhere between 20 and 83 centimetres higher than its 2007 peak.

When asked what would happen if that highest water level is reached, Mark Hill from Yukon's Protective Services department expressed confidence in the preparations made so far.

"Ultimately we just build our berms to whatever height is necessary," he said. "For the most part we're extremely pleased with the mitigations that are in place."

In the meantime, evacuation alerts and one evacuation order remain in place in the Southern Lakes, as does the state of emergency declared earlier in July.

More than 100 properties remain impacted by flooding.

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