New Brunswick monitoring potential for flooding as river levels begin to rise

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New Brunswick officials are advising people in flood-prone areas of the province to pay attention as the water levels of the Saint John River are on the rise.

The spillway gates at the Mactaquac Dam, near Fredericton, will need to be opened soon because of the rising water, Department of Public Safety spokesman Geoffrey Downey said Monday.

“The generators are running at max, and that’s a pretty good sign of how things are trending,” he said in an interview. `”In the five-day forecast it’s going from a little over 81,000 cubic feet (of water) per second up to 126,000 cubic feet per second.”

But Downey said the immediate forecast doesn’t call for flooding.

Read more: Sackville, Amherst mayors approve of plan to protect border land from flooding

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The Saint John River, which runs through western New Brunswick, starts in northern Maine and heads south to the Bay of Fundy. It is fed along the way by a large number of other rivers and streams.

Numerous communities and farms are located along the river.

While most of the snow is gone in the southern part of the province, there is still a lot of snow and intact ice in the north, Downey said.

“People need to stay off the ice,” he said. “The flows show the water is starting to move quite quickly and that’s usually a sign that the ice is rotting (melting) and will be releasing at some point in the near future.”

Once the ice begins moving, it creates the potential for ice jams, Downey said.

Read more: New Brunswick flood watch says too early to predict extent of upcoming flood season

There was little flooding across the province over the last two years, following several years of severe floods, Downey said, adding that if the snow and ice melt slowly, the province should have another good spring. A rapid melt coupled with significant rainfall, however, could cause flooding, he said.

“There is still a fair bit of snow in the north and there is still a fair bit of water content in that snow. We are at 99.8 per cent of normal for the water content in the snow above the Mactaquac Dam.”

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Residents of flood-prone areas should be checking their properties in case anything needs to be moved from the yard or basement, Downey said.

Now is also the time, he added, for homeowners to verify with their insurance companies whether they have overland flood coverage.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 11, 2022.

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