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April 21, 2021

Haley Matschke

RIDEAU VALLEY, April 20, 2021 – Although nobody can predict the weather – and despite some recent rain – 2021 is shaping up to be an abnormally dry year across the Rideau Valley watershed if the current trend continues.

Rideau Valley residents enjoyed a relatively easy winter with warmer-than-normal temperatures in every month except for February. Combined with below-average precipitation and above-average temperatures in March, all evidence points to a dry year ahead. 

Weather and water level conditions have been pointing in this direction since winter began in December 2020:

  • Approximately 50 mm of rain fell across the watershed between December 24 and 25, resulting in short-term elevated water level and flow conditions in many lakes and rivers. Levels and flows receded by the end of January, with most regions dropping to below normal for much of February and March. 
  • Snowfall was also limited. There were only two large snowstorms of about 20 cm each (one each in mid-January and mid-February) and several smaller snowstorms of about 5 cm each. Based on recorded snow fall amounts and RVCA snow monitoring results, the total amount of ‘snow water equivalent’ this winter was about 80% of normal. (To learn more about how we calculate the snow water equivalent, check out this video:
  • Monthly temperatures from November 2020 through January 2021 were, on average, 1 to 3 degrees Celsius above normal, with slightly cooler than normal temperatures in February. The overall warmer winter concluded with very mild temperatures in March.
  • Daytime temperatures rose well above zero from March 9 through 12, which resulted in rapid snowmelt across the watershed and subsequent short-term elevated water levels/flows in most waterbodies. This was followed by a large rain event of 40+ mm in late March which caused water levels/flows to increase again, but they quickly declined with the limited rainfall into mid-April.

So, what does this all mean? All water levels and flows across the Rideau Valley watershed are currently well below normal for this time of year. Current flows on the Rideau, Jock and Tay Rivers and Kemptville Creek are all between 30 to 40 per cent of the typical seasonal averages. (For current and historical water level and flow information, see For more information on low water conditions, check out this video:

Flows on the Rideau River are routinely augmented by several reservoir lakes located in the upper watershed, west of Westport. These lakes store water in the spring and sustain flows throughout the drier summer months. Water levels and flows in the primary reservoirs (Bobs Lake and Wolfe Lake) are currently below normal for this time of year. Flow through lakes such as Christie Lake have also been affected and are trending well below normal. 

Parks Canada staff are carefully managing the outflows in the reservoir lakes and have indicated that if we receive normal precipitation amounts over the next couple of months, lake levels are expected to gradually rise to seasonal averages. 

Parks Canada staff also manage water levels and flows in the main body of the Rideau River from Big Rideau Lake through downtown Ottawa, including the Rideau Canal lock system. Parks Canada staff have indicated that navigation levels along this reach will be achieved by the long weekend in May. For more information from Parks Canada, see

RVCA staff are currently preparing to meet with the Rideau Valley Water Response Team, which is made up of municipal and agency partners. The primary purpose of Water Response Team is to provide a forum for the sharing of information among water managers and water takers, and to facilitate co-operative decision-making on the conservation of limited water supplies at the early stages of and throughout drought events, as they occur.

For more information visit or email . For flood and drought news directly to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletters here:


Modern Niagara pledges $300,000 to Conservation Foundation — Rideau Valley residents can count on cleaner water, healthier shorelines and more climate-resilient communities thanks to a ground-breaking agreement between the RVCA’s charitable foundation and building services giant Modern Niagara. Learn about this and other happenings in the watershed — click here.

If you enjoyed this story, why not read the rest of the Around the Rideau newsletter, or better yet, subscibe and the next edition will be waiting for you in your inbox! Subscribe here. 

April 16, 2021

2020 Annual Report

RIDEAU VALLEY, April 22, 2021 – Just in time for Earth Day, Rideau Valley residents can count on cleaner water, healthier shorelines and more climate-resilient communities thanks to a groundbreaking agreement between the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation (RVCF) and Modern Niagara.

The national mechanical, electrical, integrated technology and building services corporation will provide $300,000 to the Foundation over five years to help acquire 375 more acres of local wetlands, shorelines and forests for perpetual protection.

This is the first deal of its kind for the RVCF and will provide it with much more flexibility to acquire sensitive natural areas across the watershed.

The agreement also kickstarts Modern Niagara’s journey to carbon neutrality by protecting lands that naturally absorb and store carbon dioxide. The company is working on other strategies to reduce its carbon footprint, as well.

The land deal safeguards vital environmental services for nearby communities. 

“This agreement is a huge win for the watershed’s residents, who rely on robust wetland and forest cover to provide flood, drought and erosion control and to keep our air and water clean,” said Diane Downey, executive director of the RVCF. “Protecting pristine natural areas is our first and best defence against the impacts of climate change.”

The RVCF currently owns, manages or supports more than 6,765 acres of unique, healthy ecosystems across the Rideau Valley. But these lands cost money to acquire and maintain; surveys, appraisals, legal fees, property taxes and public safety measures are all expenses the Foundation accepts when it acquires a property. 

The Foundation’s Steve Simmering Conservation Lands Endowment Fund is used to cover these costs, with the principal invested year after year to create a steady flow of cash. But until this agreement, the endowment required more principal to offset all of the annual and acquisition costs.

Today, thanks to Modern Niagara, the Foundation won’t have to say no to future land donations. The agreement gives the Foundation the flexibility and financial security to accept new lands, by covering the many land transfer costs that can add up. 

“Modern Niagara is proud to preserve our most sensitive natural areas while also doing our part to slow the impacts of climate change,” said Erin Oliver, Modern Niagara’s VP of Health, Safety and Sustainability. “Green and sustainable technology is at the core of what we do, and you can’t find a greener technology than allowing nature to do its work.”

Oliver said the Modern Niagara team is thrilled to be protecting local lands that have a direct impact on the health and sustainability of their communities.

“We are so excited for this partnership and can’t wait to see what beautiful parcels of local land will be protected because of it,” Oliver said. 

Want to get on board?

The RVCF welcomes corporations and organizations of all sizes to become a local environmental champion like Modern Niagara and our other legacy partners like LiVE 88.5 FM by sponsoring a property, supporting local tree planting, helping to upgrade our nature trails, supporting outdoor education opportunities or through their own visionary idea. 

Whatever your budget, we can work with you to find a method of support that suits your vision while keeping our watershed clean and healthy for generations to come.

Visit for more information or contact Diane Downey at  to get started. 


Water Conditions Statement: Flood Outlook — Lower Ottawa River

March 26, 2021 — A Flood Outlook Statement is being issued for areas along the Lower Ottawa River. Based on current snow cover and weather forecast, it is anticipated that levels and flows along the main stem of the river from Arnprior to Hawkesbury are expected to begin to rise over the next few days but will remain within the normal range of fluctuations associated with the spring freshet period.

Presently, the snow cover varies significantly across the 146,300 square kilometre Ottawa River basin, with some areas in the south of the basin having no snow cover at all. Where there is snow cover, the snow water content (amount of water contained in the snow) is lower than average over much of the basin except in the west-central portion of the basin where average conditions prevail. Snow water content is only one of several factors impacting the magnitude of the spring freshet each year.

The Ottawa River Regulating Committee indicates that with the current weather forecast, flooding in low-lying areas is not expected to occur over the next few days. Levels are currently expected to remain below flood thresholds. While it is not possible to completely rule out the occurrence of a large spring freshet, the factors that are known at this time, namely below average snow water content in all locations and an early spring start, are positive indicators of a year without excessive flooding along the Ottawa River.

Throughout the freshet period, the combination of heavy rainfall and snowmelt may result in rapid increases in water levels and flows on the main stem of the Ottawa River from Mattawa down to the Montreal Region.

Residents in flood-prone areas are encouraged to closely follow evolving conditions and to take necessary measures. Residents are advised to stay away from watercourses where flows are high and where banks might be unstable. Parents are encouraged to explain dangers to children.

The Mississippi Valley, Rideau Valley, and South Nation Conservation Authorities monitor water levels and weather forecasts with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry as part of the Flood Forecasting and Warning Program. Updates are provided as conditions change.

The Ottawa River Regulating Committee will be reassessing forecast conditions and providing hydrological condition updates on its website daily at

To view current flood warnings across Ontario, visit:

This FLOOD OUTLOOK STATEMENT is in effect until April 16, 2021 at 5:00 PM.

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  • Water Conditions Statement: Water Safety: indicates that high flows, melting ice or other factors could be dangerous for such users as boaters, anglers and swimmers but flooding is not expected.
  • Water Conditions Statement: Flood Outlook: gives early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high winds or other conditions.
  • Flood Watch: potential for flooding exists within specific watercourses and municipalities.
  • Flood Warning: flooding is imminent or occurring within specific watercourses and municipalities.

Communiqué sur les conditions du bassin versant : Perspective de crue – Cours inférieur de la rivière des Outaouais

Le 26 mars 2021 — Un communiqué de perspective de crue est émis pour les régions situées le long du cours inférieur de la rivière des Outaouais. D'après la couverture de neige actuelle et les prévisions météorologiques, on prévoit que les niveaux et les débits le long du tronçon principal de la rivière, d'Arnprior à Hawkesbury, devraient commencer à augmenter au cours des prochains jours, mais resteront dans la plage normale des fluctuations associées à la période de crue printanière.

À l'heure actuelle, la couverture de neige varie considérablement dans le bassin de la rivière des Outaouais d'une superficie de 146 300 km², certaines régions du sud du bassin n'ayant aucune couverture de neige. Là où il y a une couverture de neige, la teneur en eau de la neige (quantité d'eau contenue dans la neige) est inférieure à la moyenne dans la majeure partie du bassin, sauf dans la partie centrale ouest du bassin où les conditions sont moyennes. La teneur en eau de la neige n'est qu'un des nombreux facteurs qui influent sur l'ampleur de la crue printanière chaque année.

Le Comité de régularisation de la rivière des Outaouais indique qu'avec les prévisions météorologiques actuelles, on ne prévoit pas d'inondation dans les basses terres au cours des prochains jours. On s'attend actuellement à ce que les niveaux demeurent sous les seuils d'inondation. Bien qu'il ne soit pas possible d'exclure complètement l'occurrence d'une grande crue printanière, les facteurs connus à l'heure actuelle, à savoir une teneur en eau de la neige inférieure à la moyenne dans tous les endroits et un début de printemps précoce, sont des indicateurs positifs d'une année sans inondation excessive le long de la rivière des Outaouais.

Tout au long de la période de crue printanière, la combinaison de fortes pluies et de fonte des neiges peut entraîner une augmentation rapide des niveaux d'eau et des débits sur le cours principal de la rivière des Outaouais, de Mattawa jusqu'à la région de Montréal.

Les résidents des zones sujettes aux inondations sont invités à suivre de près l'évolution des conditions et à prendre les mesures nécessaires. Il est conseillé aux résidents de ne pas s'approcher des cours d'eau où le débit est élevé et où les berges peuvent être instables. On recommande aux parents d'expliquer les dangers aux enfants.

Les offices de protection de la nature des rivières Mississippi, Rideau et Nation Sud surveillent les niveaux d'eau et les prévisions météorologiques avec le ministère des Richesses naturelles et des Forêts dans le cadre du programme de prévision et d'alerte des crues. Des mises à jour sont émises en fonction de l'évolution des conditions.

Le Comité de régularisation de la rivière des Outaouais réévaluera les prévisions et publiera quotidiennement des mises à jour des conditions hydrologiques sur son site Web à Pour consulter les alertes de crue actuelles en Ontario, visitez le site :

Ce COMMUNIQUÉ DE PERSPECTIVE DE CRUE est en vigueur jusqu'au 16 avril 2021 à 17 h.

- fin -

Définitions :

  • Communiqué sur les conditions des bassins versants – Sécurité aquatique : indique que des débits forts, de la glace fondante ou d’autres facteurs peuvent être dangereux pour des utilisateurs comme les plaisanciers, les pêcheurs à la ligne et les baigneurs, mais qu’une crue n’est pas prévue.
  • Communiqué sur les conditions des bassins versants – Perspective de crue :préavis de crue possible basé sur des prévisions de pluies abondantes, de fonte des neiges, de forts vents ou autre.
  • Veille de crue :possibilité de crue pour des cours d’eau et municipalités spécifiques.
  • Avertissement de crue : crue immimente ou en cours pour des cours d’eau et
    municipalités spécifiques.

March 25, 2021­ - Above normal temperatures in March have melted most of the snow across the Rideau Valley watershed. The snow melt was quite rapid at first causing water levels and flows to rise quickly in some areas. This was followed by a more gradual melt of the remaining snow. For the most part, water levels and flows are about normal for this time of year and are well below flood thresholds.    

The short-term forecast is calling for rainfall amounts of between 40 to 50 millimetres between Thursday and Sunday, with heaviest rain on Friday, and cooler temperatures but still above zero. If the rain comes as forecast, water levels and flows will increase again across the Rideau Valley Watershed. As such, an updated FLOOD OUTLOOK is in effect due the possibility of flooding for all low-lying areas along all waterways, especially near small creeks and streams. Parks Canada staff who manage the water levels for the Rideau Canal have indicated that the levels in the upper watershed lakes are currently below average and expected to rise but not to flood levels.

Further to the above, a FLOOD WATCH is in effect for the low-lying areas along Stevens Creek and Taylor Drain in the Village of North Gower. If the rain comes as forecast, water levels may be similar too, or possibly higher than, those already observed this spring.

With the rising water levels expected over the coming days, the remaining ice cover on lakes, ditches, local streams, and rivers will be unstable. In addition, ice cover in the rivers and streams may breakup as a result of warm temperatures and higher flows, increasing the risk of ice jams and associated overbank flooding. Extreme caution should be exercised by everyone when near local waterbodies. Parents should inform their children of the risks and provide appropriate supervision. 

Residents in flood-prone or low-lying areas, historically susceptible to flooding, should take the necessary precautions to protect their property, such as:

  • Ensuring sump pump is clear, in good working condition and has a backwater valve 
  • Ensuring easy access to a portable backup generator and pump
  • Ensuring downspouts are clear and the outlet is at least 3 metres from the dwelling 
  • Securing items that might float away as flows increase 
  • Removing valuable items from basements or lower floors that could be subject to flooding
  • Keeping emergency phone numbers handy
  • Familiarizing yourself with your municipality’s Emergency Preparedness Plan

This watershed conditions statement is in effect until April 15, 2021, at 5 p.m. and will be updated at that time unless the forecast or conditions change.

RIDEAU VALLEY, March 19, 2021 – Even the goodest of good pups can accidentally harass or kill wildlife while off exploring, which is why we’re reminding visitors to keep their dogs on-leash and on conservation area trails at all times.

Spring is a particularly sensitive time, as some birds and animals build their nests on or very close to the ground. These nests can easily be trampled, eaten or otherwise destroyed by curious canines.

While we welcome on-leash dogs to most of our conservation areas, RVCA's Conservation Lands manager Chelsey Ellis says her department’s top priority is protecting the natural spaces the RVCA owns and manages.

“Off-leash dogs disrupt the ecosystems we are trying to protect,” Ellis said. “We want to ensure we can balance all the unique natural activities happening at our sites. Guest can do their part to help by keeping dogs on-leash while they connect with nature.”

The meadowlark, bobolink and whip-poor-will are all considered species at risk in Ontario, and all of them build their nests on the ground, making them vulnerable to roaming pups. Game animals like grouse, ducks and turkeys also nest on the ground. Mammals like mice, voles, chipmunks and even skunks can also be found cuddled up with their young in burrows, under logs, in leaf litter or in cavities at the base of trees where they are at risk of being disturbed.

Allowing pups to poop in the woods where it’s not easily cleaned up is a problem, too, as dog poop can contaminate nearby waterways and introduce disease and parasites to local wildlife. Cleaning up after your dog – on or off the trail – is essential to protecting our natural areas and waterways.

The RVCA operates 11 conservation areas across the watershed, including 42 kilometres of trails. Our properties include wetlands and forests, unique floodplain lands along the Rideau River and a wildlife reserve in Perth. Please note the wildlife reserve does not allow any dogs at any time.

To plan your visit, see


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Contact Us

Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
3889 Rideau Valley Drive
Manotick, Ontario K4M 1A5

613-692-3571, 1-800-267-3504



Regular Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Member of: conservation ontario