Heavy rains prompt flood watch for Lake Ontario, water safety caution for Peterborough and area

Conservation authorities throughout central Ontario warn heavy rain beginning Wednesday may lead to increased water levels on rivers, lakes and streams. Global Peterborough file

Three conservation authorities in central Ontario are advising an impending weather system may lead to elevated water levels and flows in the region and along Lake Ontario later this week.

On Tuesday, Otonabee Conservation issued a water safety statement for the City of Peterborough and surrounding municipalities. The authority advises a low-pressure system beginning Wednesday and continuing until Friday may bring an estimated 30 to 60 millimetres of rain.

However, flooding from rivers, streams and creeks is not anticipated.

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“The forecasted rainfall over three days will result in elevated water levels and flows in all lakes, rivers, streams and creeks,” the authority states. “As a result, local waterbodies/watercourses will become more dangerous than normal, especially in the vicinity of water conveyance structures such as dams, culverts and bridges. Water accumulation and ponding on roads, intersections and low-lying areas is possible.”

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Otonabee Conservation hereby advises area residents to keep away from all waterbodies/watercourses and water conveyance structures (e.g., dams, culverts and bridges), to stay clear of areas where water can be seen to be accumulating and ponding

The water safety message will remain in effect until Sunday.

Kawartha Conservation

Kawartha Conservation has also issued water safety statement for its jurisdiction, noting watershed conditions are currently normal. However, the authority also says the anticipated precipitation could increase water levels and flows in the watershed.

“No flooding problems within and around local rivers and streams are anticipated at this time, however, all watercourses have the potential to be dangerous during and after a large rain event,” the statement reads. “Kawartha Conservation is warning all residents to stay a safe distance from all water bodies, as well as water structures such as bridges, culverts, and dams. River banks can be slippery and muddy at this time of year and children should be warned of dangerous conditions and supervised while outside.”

Residents along the Burnt and Gull rivers are advised to contact the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for inquiries regarding water levels. The MNRF office in Minden can be reached at 705-286-5207 or online.

The authority’s statement will remain in effect until Saturday.

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Lake Ontario

The Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority has issued a flood watch for Lake Ontario. No immediate flooding is anticipated as a result of the rain but high flows in ditches and streams are expected and strong winds of up to 65 km/h could create wave action along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

“Coastal wetlands may become backwatered and flooding of low-lying shorelines is possible as a result,” the authority states. “Residents are reminded to stay well clear of shorelines during strong onshore winds when wave action may be actively eroding the shoreline creating hazardous conditions.”

Click to play video: 'Outflow remains high on Lake Ontario: International Joint Commission'
Outflow remains high on Lake Ontario: International Joint Commission

The authority advises that the water level of Lake Ontario is currently at 75.35 m above sea level (as measured at Cobourg) which is 40 cm above normal and 57 cm below the record high set in 2019. While water levels are expected to continue to gradually rise for the next few weeks as spring runoff and above-average inflows from Lake Erie continue, Lake Ontario is forecast to peak well below the record highs of 2017 and 2019, the authority states.

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The flood watch for the Lake Ontario shoreline will remain in effect until May 31.

This Flood Watch for the shoreline of Lake Ontario within the Ganaraska region will be in effect through Sunday, May 31, 2020. Conservation Authority staff will continue to monitor conditions, and provide updates as necessary. Should you have any questions or wish to report flooding, please contact the following GRCA staff at 905-885-8173.

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