Provincial: Critical situation in Abbotsford as flood threatens to overwhelm pump station

Floods threaten Abbotsford pump station; if it fails, the flooding will get much worse.

Flooding in Abbotsford, B.C. on Nov. 16, 2021. Image: City of Abbotsford

Authorities in Abbotsford, B.C. are urging all residents of the Sumas Prairie area to evacuate immediately on the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 16 as flood waters threaten a pump station.

The Barrowtown Pump Station removes water from the Sumas Prairie area and pumps it into the Fraser River. Rising flood waters are threatening the pump station, and if it is inundated, it will be turned off, leading to more flooding.

Video: A Nov. 16 press conference with Abbotsford Mayor Braun and safety officials

The low-lying area that has seen significant flooding in the past days is a reclaimed lake bed that sits lower than the Fraser River and is protected by a dike system. In an evening media release by the City of Abbotsford on Nov. 16, authorities said if the pump station fails, it would mean water from the Fraser River will flow into the former lake, adding to flooding there.

Authorities warn the situation could be “catastrophic” and ask residents to leave immediately, leaving livestock behind if need be.

Officials are trying to bolster defenses of the pump station including by sandbagging the facility and bringing in more auxiliary pumps.

Abbotsford is a significant centre for agriculture in B.C., producing a significant amount of dairy, eggs, meat and other farm products in the province. The Trans-Canada Highway also runs through the flooded area.