'Highest January rainfall on record' causes flooding in Grand River watershed

A flood warning is in effect for the entire Grand River watershed. Several roads and bridges across Waterloo region have been closed due to flooding.

Several roads and bridges across Waterloo region are closed due to flooding

GRCA issued a flood warning for the entire Grand River watershed on Saturday due to significant amounts of rainfall. On Sunday, New Hamburg resident Agnes Wagner helped her neighbours get to dry land. (Carmen Groleau/ CBC)

A flood warning remains in effect for the entire Grand River watershed after a weather system brought up to 100 mm of rainfall to the area on Saturday, according to the Grand River Conservation Authority.

The storm resulted in substantial flooding for communities in the northern and central parts of the watershed, the GRCA said in a statement.

 As of Sunday afternoon, the GRCA said river flows in these parts of the watershed had begun to recede but are expected to remain higher than normal for this time of year.

Meantime, flows in the southern Grand River watershed are expected to increase throughout the weekend and cause "significant" flooding in certain areas before receding this week. 

Communities along the Grand River through the southern watershed such as Paris, Brantford, Caledonia, Cayuga, and Dunnville should prepare for flooding similar to June 2017, the GRCA said.

The weekend weather event produced the highest January rainfall on record for this part of the province, the GRCA said. 

GRCA used its major reservoirs in Belwood, Conestogo, Guelph, Luther, Woolwich, Laurel, and Shade's Mills to manage runoff and reduce flooding downstream. 

On Sunday afternoon, GRCA said it had started to release water from these reservoirs. River flows through the watershed are expected to remain high throughout the week as runoff from the storm moves through the system.

People are cautioned to stay away from all waterways due to extreme risk caused by slippery riverbanks and bad weather conditions. 

"Parents are encouraged to keep their children and pets away from all watercourses," the GRCA said. 

Cameron Linwood of the Grand River Conservation Authority said his team has tracked more unusual weather events happening throughout the year. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

Cameron Linwood, communications co-ordinator for the GRCA, said the January flood follows a trend of greater climate variability the conservation authority has monitored in recent years.

"What we're seeing now is extreme events happening throughout the year," whether that's a January rain storm or a significant ice jam, he said.

"It used to be somewhat more predictable. Now we're seeing them happening all year round," Linwood said.

Road closures

Flooding was visible in New Hamburg Sunday morning. (Carmen Groleau/CBC)

Several roads and bridges across Waterloo region were closed due to flooding.


  • Albert Street from Weber Street to Longwood Drive.


  • Blackbridge Road from Baldwin Drive to Townline Road.
  • Riverside Park's Rogers Drive.
  • Mill Run Trail from Hespeler to Preston.
  • The north side of Soper Park is also closed due to park walkways being under water.
  • Water Street South from Concession Street to Myers Road.
A number of streets remain closed in New Hamburg due to flooding. (Carmen Groleau/ CBC)

Wilmot Township:

  • Lisbon Road from Nafziger Road to the east end.
  • Holland Mills Road from Bleams Road to Huron Road.
  • Milton Street from Shade Street to Hannah and Byron Street.
  • Wilby Road from Nagziger Road to Sandhills Road.
  • Union Street.
  • Burns Street.
  • Asmus Street.
  • Jacob Street. 

Woolwich Township:

  • Misty River Drive.
  • The Glasgow Street bridge.
  • Low-level bridge in St. Jacobs.
  • Barnswallow Drive.

Township of Wellesley:

  • The township is warning people to stay away from Albert Erb Park and the area surrounding the pond.

North Dumfries:

  • Shellard Road between Morrison Road and Old Beverly Road.
  • Tannery Street in Ayr.
GRCA issued a flood warning for the entire Grand River watershed on Saturday due to significant amounts of rainfall. It anticipates river flows to remain high this week. (Matthew Kang/CBC)