Storms rolls through Canyon Lake, leaves behind damage, dam spills and flooding

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A view of the flooding and a rainbow from Wirlaway Ct., looking toward Moonstone Beach. Photo by Candace Campbell.

Canyon Lake has seen its fair share of rain this past week. With the heavy rains came high winds, floods, water damage, road closures, and at least for one resident, a landslide. According to Canyon Lake Weatherman Pat Elliano, Canyon Lake received 4.11 inches of rain from January 18 to January 24. Wind gusts measured 20 MPH.

Storms bring inconveniences and messy cleanups for some residents. Last week’s storms caused the North Causeway to close several times, cutting off residents who live on the north side from the rest of the community. “It’s a long drive to the Towne Center and the Lodge when you can’t access the North Causeway and are rerouted out the North Gate,” says one resident who lives on Longhorn Dr.

One resident who decided to ignore the guards and barriers at the North Causeway became stuck, leaving the vehicle stranded on the Causeway for hours. After Sunday’s storm, the Main Causeway was flooded and shut down for a short period of time.

Many of the backyards and decks of the lake front homes flooded. Jenny and Jon Teperson’s bedroom flooded with two inches of water and part of Holly Swift’s retaining wall, fence and hill slid into the street below.

Some residents took advantage of the rain, like Destiny Peterson who was seen kayaking down Canyon Lake Dr. North.

Once the rains parted, the rainbow chasers took to the streets to photograph the multiple rainbows, including an unusual double rainbow, that appeared in the skies over Canyon Lake last week.

For the first time in many years water flowed over the Canyon Lake Dam last week. With water also pouring out at the base of the dam, some residents were under the impression that EVMWD opened the “floodgate.” While some dams do have floodgates, Canyon Lake isn’t one of them.

The water flushing out of the base of the dam was coming from two 48 inch gate valves, not a floodgate. The dam valves are not operated with the intent to regulate the reservoir level, it’s used as a function of the maintenance program.

One of the routine maintenance programs at the Canyon Lake Water Treatment Plant (CLWTP) involves flushing the two valves. The work is typically conducted to move stagnant water and debris from the base of the dam and to ensure the performance of the hydraulic system.

With the recent storms, the water levels at the dam increased to spill level and provided an opportunity for Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District (EVMWD) to perform a routine maintenance that involves flushing the two 48 inch gate valves. The water released is captured in the overflow pond on the other side of the dam. EVMWD predicts that flushing periodically from the two valves on the dam will increase the treatability of the water in Canyon Lake since the CLWTP intake is directly adjacent to the dam.

The increase spill level also provided an opportunity for EVMWD to conduct some water quality analysis. Last week EVMWD Operators conducted preliminary sampling at multiple points on the lake and downstream of the dam. The valves were flushed on January 19 and January 20. After the valves were flushed, EVMWD conducted a follow-up sampling on Canyon Lake from the same locations the preliminary sampling was taken from.

EVMWD hopes the data collected will provide a better understanding of the effects that flushing has on the lake. EVMWD says they are working to come up with a water quality monitoring plan that will provide information about water quality in the lake and downstream of the dam both before and after flushing.

The recent storms are a reminder to residents to be prepared for future storms. Both the City and the POA has systems in place to notify residents when the Causeways are closed. Only those residents who sign up for this service will be notified.

The City of Canyon Lake has an emergency notification system called CodeRED, which will alert each resident by phone or e-mail in the event of an emergency.

The ultra high-speed telephone communication service allows the City to telephone all or targeted areas in case of an emergency, such as drinking water contamination, utility outage, evacuation notice, missing person, road closures, fires, floods, law enforcement activities that may impact the City, chemical spills and gas leaks where rapid and accurate notification is essential for public safety.

The system is capable of dialing a high volume of phones per hour and delivering a recorded message to a person or an answering machine. The system is ideal for residents who may not be watching television or listening to the radio when an emergency message is issued. The system also can call cell phones and send e-mails.

Since the initiation of the system, many Canyon Lake residents have changed their phone numbers or gone strictly to cell phones. The City wants to make sure that everyone is in the database and will be contacted in the case of an emergency.”

That is why City officials urge residents to take a few minutes and sign up for the service online on the City’s website at www.cityofcanyonlake.com. Once on the City’s website, click on Services then Disaster Preparedness. The short online form asks for information about alternate phone numbers, e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers.

Although residents can opt not to receive emergency notifications, City officials recommend that everyone participate. Those who previously have signed up and haven’t made changes to their contact information don’t need to sign up again.

Residents who wish to receive POA general community and event announcements should text POA to 25827.

Residents who experience power outages during a storm should call the  Southern California Edison (SCE) 24-hour emergency hotline at 800-611-1911 to report the outage. It is the primary way for SCE to know there is a problem so crews can be deployed. Residents who experience outages can check the “Outage Center” at www.sce.com to learn what time they can expect power to be restored.

Free sandbags are available for residents who need them. Sandbags can be picked up daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. outside the gate at the fire station on Vacation Dr.

Residents are advised to bring their own shovel as there is no guarantee there will be one there. If there are no more sandbags, residents should call contact Community Patrol at 951-244-6841, ext. 410, for assistance.

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Donna Ritchie