Flooding in Happy Valley
Every few years we have the right weather conditions to bring the Bilston Creek and its tributaries up to where the banks overflow. Once in a while, they overflow a lot. Below are a few photos that have been collected of flood events. Click on any of the small pictures to see the full size photo.
Flood of 1961
The above photos were taken from a helicopter during a flood on Monday, February 20, 1961. Much of the flooded area in the top 2 pictures is now covered by new houses. The land was not built up or filled before the construction and most of the new homes will get wet the next time.
The largest flood is said to have occurred December 8 - 9 1956. This is estimated to be about 1000 cubic feet per second runoff measured near the bridge on Winter road by the intersection with Happy Valley road. It was as a result of this 1956 flood that the Bilston Creek Improvement District was formed in May of 1957. Previous to this there was the "Glen Lake Drainage District" formed in March of 1921, (which became inactive after only a few years), which covered the upstream area around the intersection of Happy Valley Road and Sooke Highway, (Heaslip Slough), and the Glen Lake Slough runoff area.
The first official study down of the flooding problem was completed on January 23, 1928, by District Engineer E.G. Marriott and Assistant Engineer D.K. Penfold. This study recommended the excavation of a number of ditches and the widening and deepening of several sections of the stream. Total excavation was to be about 18,000 cubic yards of material. Nowheres is there any mention of fish, wildlife, or habitat. Presumably some of this work was done, but so far we have not found records to confirm. This study contains some very interesting photos of the area as well as a map outlining the stream and ditches through various properties. Should anyone wish to view the study, it is available to examine from the B.C. Ministry of Environment Library, filed under the heading "Bilston Creek Improvement District". Alternatively, we can supply a computerized copy, complete with scanned photographs and maps. Please email, secretary, B.W.H.P.A. with your request.
The next study undertaken was in 1958. This was prompted by the flood of 1956 and by the construction of the Luxton Centennial Ball Grounds in 1958. During the building of the ball fields, some sections of the ditch, (Firehall Creek), were filled in. Part of the study examined options for ditching around the ball field. One choice was to dig the ditch from Heaslip Slough, roughly following the C.N.R. railway track, (now the Gallopping Goose trail), to Marwood road, then west to Luxton road. The other choice was to run it from Heaslip Slough directly to Sooke Highway, and then south down Luxton. This was not recommended due to the risk to motorists travelling down Sooke Highway. In the end the ditch was excavated to follow partly the original route to where Penwood road now is, then around the ball field to Sooke Highway and then down Luxton road. Some of the photos of the newly excavated ditch are quite impressive. Also in the study are photos of the various bridges and surrounding lands. One photo is of a resident standing beside his home and holding his hand above his head to show the height the water came to when running through the windows of the house. A number of other works were recomended in this study, but little else besides clearing large woody debris, seems to have actually been done.
|Flood of 1927. From the Marriott and Penfold study of Jan 23, 1928. Photos may have been taken on Jan 4'th 1928 following a heavy rain which continued after a snowfall.|
|Flood of Dec. 8 and 9 1956. Click on the small picture to see the full size. The owner is holding his hand up to the level the water came up to.|
|This a view of the above home showing the stream when low after the flood. Evidently built before the days of building inspections, today one would not be permitted to build so close to the creek. This house was subsequently removed.|
Flood of Nov 10, 1990
This was one of the larger flood events recently. It is generally considered by most government agencies that this was a "once in fifteen year" storm. The peak reading on the water level gauge on Bilston Creek near Luxton road was 2.74 meters. The reading on the gauge at Dewdney Flats was just above the highest possible reading of 2.95 meters, (this gauge has now been extended higher). The residence in the photo above is on Happy Valley Road near the intersection with Latoria road. When this picture was taken muddy water was flowing about a foot deep through the lower floor of the house. Shortly after, the fire department showed up and we all placed sandbags around the home and the water slowly pumped out. Was quite a mess! Two weeks later the creek rose again, but only reached 2.13 meters.
|Feb. 19, 1994. Dewdney Flats Gauge reads 2.65 meters.|
|Nov. 8, 1995. Water is seen flowing along Lippincott road towards the bridge at Luxton road. Gauge reading at Dewdney Flats was 2.71 meters.|
|Nov. 29, 1995. Looking east along Lippincott road. The yellow rowboat has floated out over the road. The gauge at Dewdney Flats reads 2.78 meters.|
|Dec. 15, 1999. Dewdney Flats rises to 2.75 meters.|
Nov. 6, 2006. Dewdney Flats up to 2.75 meters. First time for several years gets this high. Water is flowing across Luxton road.
Jan. 7, 2009. Dewdney Flats rises up to 3.12 meters during the night. Several houses flooded, including the one shown above from Nov 10, 1990.
Dec. 12, 2010. Dewdney Flats gauge up to 2.70 meters. Roads covered in places but no houses damaged.