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Vancouver –

The mayor of Abbotsford said “it will probably take weeks” before all the flood water is pumped out of eastern Sumas Prairie.

Mayor Henry Braun told reporters that rain falling on the south coast on Thursday slowed the Barrowtown pumping station in its efforts to remove water from the flooded area, but water levels were not rising on Thursday. .

“It will probably be weeks before we can pump all the water out of the still flooded part of the Sumas Grassland,” Braun said.

With the first of three storms currently hitting the province and two more on the way, the mayor said he was concerned that more flooding from the Nooksack River in Washington state was heading north through Abbotsford and undo a lot of the work that has been done. to dry out the meadow in the last week.

“Over the past week, we have made every effort to ensure that we are as prepared as possible should the worst-case scenario occur and the floodwaters move north again from the state of Washington, ”Braun said.

The mayor explained that the pumping station can reduce water levels in the prairie by “six to eight inches a day” in dry weather.

“This is, of course, affected by precipitation and runoff from the Vedder and Sumas mountains, but as I mentioned, we are still moving in a positive direction right now,” Braun said.

All of Sumas Prairie is subject to a “do not use water” advisory due to water line failures that could allow contaminated flood water to enter the drinking water system of the River. region.

These breaches are underwater in the eastern part of the prairie, according to Braun. Repairs to these breaches and environmental assessments of flooded areas cannot be completed until all the floodwaters recede, the mayor said.

He said additional pumps had been installed to help drain water from the old bed of Sumas Lake faster, but have a much lower capacity than the Barrowtown pumping station.

“They pump 25,000 gallons per minute, which is a small fraction of what the pumps in Barrowtown (can) do,” Braun said. “There are no pumps to replace Barrowtown or to even come close to what Barrowtown pumps. They run at full blast. We’ve never run these pumps full for that long, so we keep our fingers crossed for that they will hold. “

The Barrowtown Pumping Station is used to keep the old lake bed dry. It pumps water from the Sumas Prairie to the Fraser River. The station also has gates that hold back the Sumas River near its confluence with the Fraser. These floodgates were opened last week after the Fraser receded enough for this to be possible.

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