April 25, 2017 8:07 am
Updated: April 25, 2017 12:55 pm

Toronto conservation officials keeping close eye on rising water levels near Lake Ontario

WATCH ABOVE: Conservation officials are warning the public to use caution around waterways due to record high water levels. Marianne Dimain has more.

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The water level along the shoreline of HTO Park in Toronto’s waterfront area has been rising in recent weeks and is being closely monitored by conservation officials for possible flooding.

Although there is no imminent threat, the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) said the water is in the “high average” level due to the amount of rain which has fallen in the month of April.

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The boardwalk at HTO Park is currently experiencing minor flooding, but officials say there’s no reason to panic.

“It has to be at least a foot and a half higher than normal,” said local resident Richard Jones. “Yesterday, it wouldn’t be covered unless the waves were coming. Today, it would be covered even if there weren’t any waves. So it’s gone up in the last 24 hours.”

A few blocks away, the Lower Simcoe Street underpass has been partially flooded in recent weeks due to what is being called a perfect storm of rising water levels in Lake Ontario and increased development in the area.

READ MORE: Ashbridges Bay beach undergoing repairs after rainstorms flood coastline

Officials say the groundwater being collected in the neighbourhood is flowing back through the drainage system as the sewer line remains closed due to the rising water levels of Lake Ontario.

“We have been using manual pumps and sending staff there to periodically pump down that location,” Toronto Water General Manager Lou Di Gironimo said. “We’re looking at installing those pumps on an interim basis and putting them into an automatic mode so we don’t have to keep sending crews.”

TRCA waterfront specialist Nancy Gaffney told Global News, officials in New York State have advised local area residents along the coastline to begin sandbagging near the shore to prevent further flooding.

However, those living north of the border have much less to worry about as the coast is primarily publicly owned and measures are in place to deal with flooding issues, Gaffney said.

“In Ontario, our conservation authorities do regulate along the waterfront,” Gaffney said. “So we keep people set back from the hazard areas, the flooding areas, the erosion prone areas. In the States, they don’t have that kind of regulation.”

Ashbridges Bay Beach, just east of Toronto’s downtown, recently underwent some repairs following a series of damaging spring rainstorms that ravaged the coastline this month.

At one point, one third of the beach volleyball courts were under water and may not be ready for the start of the season.

City officials say crews have been grooming the sections affected by the excess water to make sure the area is safe for the public to use.

-With a report from Marianne Dimain

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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