Ready for rain
It’s a soggy fall day, and Environment Canada has issued a rainfall warning for North Vancouver, with up to 70mm in the forecast for the District over the weekend.
That’s why Cassandra is putting on a pair of hip waders. The DNV Streets crew member is preparing to clear debris from a grated entrance to a creek culvert – called an inlet – in the Braemar area.
Narrow bands of heavy precipitation, known as atmospheric rivers, commonly strike the North Shore in fall and winter.
When heavy rainfall is in the forecast, Cassandra and the rest of the Streets crew inspect and clear inlets and catch basins across the municipality to reduce the possibility of flooding and damage to property and streets.
“I grew up on the North Shore, so knowing my friends, family and neighbours are getting around the community safely makes me grateful to be able to do the work I do,” says Cassandra.
There are approximately 500 culverts and 10,000 catch basins in the District. So, how do crews keep track of all of them? Well, there’s an app for that.
The Streets team uses a custom “storm inlet inspection” program that pinpoints 795 locations, including 23 catch basins, 26 lawn basins and 310 creek inlets on a map.
There’s a priority list of inlets and basins that are checked most frequently because they had blockages or regularly receive a high volume of water during rainstorms.
Crews using the app on their phones or tablets can tap on any icons to see when each inlet was last inspected and if there are any outstanding maintenance issues. They can even browse photos taken during the most recent check.
“Our crews are continuously checking the inlets. The inlet app allows them to stay on top of that,” says Paul Pakulak, section manager, Streets.
“Residents can also help prevent local flooding by removing leaves and other debris covering catch basins on their street,” says Pakulak.
If a catch basin still looks clogged, residents can report the issue at DNV.org/report.
Maintenance and monitoring of possible trouble spots occur year-round. In the summer, for instance, crews cut back vegetation at higher-risk locations for better access to the inlets and catch basins during the stormy season.
Dry weather increases flood risk
An unusually long period of warm and dry weather can reduce the ground’s ability to absorb rainwater.
When heavy rains fall after a severe dry period, it puts us at more risk for flooding, falling trees, and debris in creeks and rivers. That means conditions can change in just hours, so frequent checks are necessary.
Streets works closely with other DNV departments like Utilities and Parks as well as neighbouring City of North Vancouver, Metro Vancouver, BC Hydro and the Ministry of Transportation to prepare for seasonal storms. Together, they patrol vulnerable areas and respond to issues like downed trees and flooding.
“Yesterday we had a crew making sandbags all day. So, we had 700 ready to go in case they were needed,” says Pakulak. “We’re ready to go twenty-four-seven.”
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