The Tiger Dam across Highway 1 at Cole Road in Abbotsford is expected to stay in place “as long as there is an imminent threat” of flooding, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“Analysis and forecasting continues to monitor for how long the dam’s temporary installation will be required,” a ministry spokesperson said in an emailed statement to The Abbotsford News.
The dam was installed Sunday night (Nov. 28) by crews from the ministry, the Canadian Armed Forces and the City of Abbotsford to try to keep floodwaters in the Sumas River so they could be directed to the Barrowtown Pump Station and into the Fraser River.
The spokesperson said the decision to install the dam was made because of the potential risk of increased flooding as the second of three atmospheric rivers hit the region. The third system began Tuesday (Nov. 30) and is expected to continue Wednesday.
The decision to install the dam was made after discussions among the ministry, the city and Emergency Management BC (EMBC) about protecting Highway 1 and other properties.
The spokesperson said EMBC already had the dam on hand as part of its stock of flood-protection products, which also include sandbags and HESCO Gabion baskets (wire containers that are filled with rocks or gravel and used as barriers).
A Tiger Dam is a series of water-filled tubes over a metre in height that create a barrier. It is created on flat ground and anchored into the pavement at regular intervals along the length of the dam.
Abbotsford Police Const. Paul Walker on Sunday described it as similar to “one big giant sandbag.” He said the dam was built near Cole Road because that area is lower in elevation than portions west of there.
“So the water would generally spill out there, but it was overfilling. So they’re trying to prevent it from spewing out, and keeping it in the channel,” Walker said.
Earlier on Sunday, the city said the floodgates at the pump station had to be closed, which occurs when the Fraser River is not at a low enough level.
It was also announced Sunday afternoon that the Nooksack River in the U.S. had overflowed its banks and the water was heading into Abbotsford, where an evacuation order had been issued for Huntingdon Village.
But by Tuesday, Braun said the water level in the Sumas Prairie lake bottom had dropped six inches in the last 24 hours.
An aerial look at the hard work on the Tiger Dam setup last night on #BChwy1 in #Abbotsford to hold back Sumas flood waters.— BC Transportation (@TranBC) November 30, 2021
Thanks again to our crews, Canadian military, @ShxwowhamelVLP @AbbyPoliceDept @BCRCMP and the @City_Abbotsford Fire Dept, for their efforts overnight. pic.twitter.com/zTqM19IwPW