CCGS Risley

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley, an icebreaker that helped clear ice from Lake Erie where the Grand River enters. (Canadian Coast Guard)

The Grand River Conservation Authority is issuing the first flood watch of the spring melt as warmer temperatures put communities along the Grand River at risk of flooding.

"We've had a lot of ice disappear in the last week or two, primarily in the central and southern part of the watershed but there's still a lot of ice in the northern part of the watershed. So as that ice breaks up and starts to move downstream there is a potential that it could cause ice jams and some flooding," said Dave Schultz, a spokesman for the GRCA. 

"Our concern right now is the potential for ice jams to develop in places like New Hamburg and West Montrose. This happens fairly frequently in these kinds of circumstances," he said, adding Ayr should also be on alert.

The Canadian Coast Guard's icebreaker CCGS Samuel Risley was in Lake Erie near the mouth of the Grand River on Sunday morning to clear ice to make space for ice from the river to enter the lake. 

"Then it did some work in the mouth of the Grand River, it went about a half a kilometre up the grand river and created a channel there for ice to flow downstream and then out into the lake," said Schultz.

The flood watch is in effect until noon on Thursday, at which point the conservation authority will determine whether it needs to remain in place.