Flood warning for Kawartha Conservation watershed

By Roderick Benns

A nasty weather pattern persists over southern Ontario, including the Kawartha Conservation watershed. Precipitation gauges around the watershed have recorded up to 45 mm of rain since Friday morning. In addition, a substantial amount of ice, ice pellets and snow has accumulated on the ground. More ice pellets and freezing rain is forecast for today.

As air temperature increases above 0°C overnight, precipitation will become rain. It is predicted that rain, sometimes heavy, will extend into Monday. A rainfall warning has been issued by Environment Canada for an area that includes the Kawartha Conservation watershed.

Water levels and flows in local rivers and streams within the watershed have increased significantly in response to the rain received over the last two days. The additional rain that is predicted, in combination with saturated or partly frozen ground conditions, will produce significant runoff that will further affect local watercourses. As the temperature warms, melting ice/snow cover will add to the amount of the runoff.

In these circumstances water levels and flows in local rivers and streams will continue to rise and by Monday may exceed their bankfull levels in many locations. Flooding will happen in floodplains, low-lying areas, areas with poor drainage and road ditches. Roads overtopping in known flood prone areas are very likely.

Municipalities are advised to monitor known flood areas and be prepared to respond to high water situations as they occur. Residents are advised to contact their municipalities should a flood threat develop. Local municipalities are first to respond to and assist with flood emergencies.

The Trent-Severn Waterway officials are monitoring this situation very closely and regulate the water control structures accordingly. All dams on the large Kawartha Lakes are open; lakes’ water levels are below average at this time.

Under these conditions, all local rivers, streams, and lakes should be considered extremely dangerous. Riverbanks and shorelines are slippery and unsafe; any remaining ice cover is unstable and hazardous. Kawartha Conservation is warning all residents to stay away from water bodies, as well as water structures such as bridges, culverts, and dams. Children should be warned of dangerous conditions and caregivers should maintain a close watch on children who are outside.

Kawartha Conservation will continue monitoring local watercourses and notify the public and municipalities within its watershed jurisdiction of any changes. We are in close communication with partner agencies such as the Trent Severn Waterway, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and neighbouring Conservation Authorities on this situation.

Burnt and Gull River water levels are monitored by staff from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF). Residents along these two rivers are requested to direct any questions concerning water levels to the MNRF Minden office at 705-286-5207.

For assistance in the event of a flood, and to obtain sandbags, please call your municipal emergency contact here.

This flood warning will be in effect until Wednesday April 18th.  Kawartha Conservation will continue monitoring water levels and watershed conditions and notify the public and municipalities within its watershed jurisdiction of any changes. If you are aware of or have concerns about flooding, please contact Kawartha Conservation at 705.328.2271 or 705.344.0155 after hours.

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