Mayo safe from flooding

Yukon Emergency Measures is back in Mayo trying to keep the town dry. For the second year in a row, the rising waters of the Mayo River have threatened the village in central Yukon.

Yukon Emergency Measures is back in Mayo trying to keep the town dry.

For the second year in a row, the rising waters of the Mayo River have threatened the village in central Yukon.

Last year the overflow caused some headaches for a few local residents when their basements flooded.

This year, however, the water is under control.

“There is no immediate threat to the community at all,” said Mayo Mayor Scott Bolton.

Two weeks ago, it looked like it was going to be a repeat of last year.

Water started to move overland towards the dike at the east end of town.

The dike is one in name only, said Chris MacPherson, the emergency management planning co-ordinator with the Yukon Emergency Measures.

“We use ‘dike’ mainly because that’s the traditional term,” he said. “It’s really a berm or raised road.

“It’s a permeable structure whereas a dike is impermeable.”

A work crew had been doing some work on the berm to shore it up and try to reduce the amount of groundwater that could get through.

The water only threatened the berm for a day and then receded, but a few days later McIntyre Park, at the north end of town, started to flood.

However, that’s not unusual.

“That area has flooded every year for the last six years and it hasn’t caused us any trouble,” said Bolton.

Regardless, Emergency Measures opened up two diversion channels to redirect some of the water.

Those same channels were opened up last year but filled back in after the flood risk subsided.

“To me it looks like the whole thing was an expensive make-work project,” said Kim Klippert, a placer miner and Mayo resident.

Klippert, who’s basement was flooded last year when the water rose, bemoaned the amount of money being spent to redo the same thing that had already been done.

“If they had left it last year, everything would have been fine,” he said.

However, those channels had to be sealed up for environmental considerations, said MacPherson.

Leaving them open for the entire year could have a negative effect on salmon breeding in the river, he said.

“As part of the permitting processes, when we’re finished, we need to clean it up and make sure we haven’t left any lasting damage,” said MacPherson.

Preventing flooding in Mayo has cost the government more than $500,000 over the last two years.

“We would like to prevent the problem from happening rather than react to it,” said MacPherson,

Finding a solution is easier said than done.

“There’s very little in the scientific literature talking about small stream flows such as the one we’re dealing with,” he said. “It is a very complex system so there is that possibility of unintended consequences if we’re not careful.

“We need to make sure that whatever solution we choose is the most effective solution.”

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com

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