(WCS – R03/2023)
RIDEAU VALLEY, March 23, 2023 – A cool March combined with above-average snowfall amounts this winter means the snowpack is higher than average for this time of year across much of the Rideau Valley Watershed. This creates potential for above-average flooding in all low-lying areas adjacent to any rivers, creeks or ditches.
The short-term weather forecast indicates rain amounts of 15-25 mm on Thurs. March 23 with temperatures well above zero, and cooler temperatures on Friday. Another precipitation event is forecast for Saturday and Sunday, but it’s unclear how much precipitation will fall, and if it will come as rain, freezing rain or snow.
Based on the above forecast, water levels and flows are expected to increase in all waterways in the Rideau Valley Watershed, beginning on Thursday and continuing throughout the weekend and next week. The degree of increase will depend on actual precipitation and temperatures over this period. If significant rain falls over the weekend, then flooding could occur on the smaller creeks and streams in the Rideau Valley Watershed. This would include Stevens Creek and any connected creeks or ditches (near North Gower) which are highly susceptible to spring flooding. This short-term forecast does not suggest flooding along the larger rivers (Rideau River), however there is potential for this in late March or early April depending on weather.
Water levels in upper watershed lakes are presently near normal for this time of year. Parks Canada staff who manage water levels for the Rideau Canal will closely monitor these water levels and have indicated that the levels are expected to rise as the snowpack begins to melt.
City of Ottawa crews continue their annual ice removal program on the Rideau River between Rideau Falls and Bronson Avenue. City crews are busy with ice breaking activities (for more information: City of Ottawa information at 311).
With changing water levels expected over the coming days, ice cover on lakes, ditches, local streams and rivers will continue to be unstable. Extreme caution should be exercised when near local waterbodies. Parents should inform their children of the risks and provide appropriate supervision.
As temperatures continue to rise, the potential for ice jams remains high in some local streams and rivers, as flows could quickly increase before the ice can melt. Residents are advised to monitor their local river closely for signs of ice jams as spring progresses. RVCA staff will be monitoring conditions but we always welcome unique observations from watershed residents.
Flooding along roadways is also a concern due to current snow/ice buildup on roadside ditches.
Residents in flood-prone or low-lying areas that are 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 Friday, March 31, 2023 and may be updated at that time unless the forecast or conditions change.
Contact: Brian Stratton, RVCA Manager Engineering Services
Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
613-692-6804, 1-800-267-3504 ext. 1141
"Rideau Valley Conservation Authority is a partnership of municipalities within the Rideau Valley watershed
created under the Conservation Authorities Act to deliver a range of programs in watershed management and
natural resource conservation."
RVCA Watershed Conditions Statements:
- Water Safety – High flows, unstable banks, melting ice or other factors that could be dangerous for recreational users such as anglers, canoeists, hikers, children, pets, etc. Flooding is not expected.
- Flood Outlook – Early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts, calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high winds or other conditions that could lead to high runoff, cause ice jams and/or lakeshore flooding or erosion.
- Flood Watch – Flooding is possible in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities, emergency services and individuals in flood prone areas should prepare.
- Flood Warning – Flooding is imminent or already occurring in specific watercourses or municipalities.