A melt is coming, but don't panic about flooding, says conservation authority

Flooding isn't expected along the water in the Ottawa region but blocked storm drains could mean trouble on roads and for basements across the region.

Rain and mild temperatures have many on high alert

Terry Davidson and Sarah MacLeod-Neilson with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority weight snow core samples along the river. The group uses the measurements to model the snow pack melt and predict if there is a chance of flooding. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Mild temperatures and a rainy forecast have many people in the Ottawa region on edge with fears that the melt will lead to flooding.

The Rideau Conservation Authority says the snow pack has more water in it this year than in any previous year in their 30-year record. However, Terry Davidson, director of engineering and regulations with the conservation authority, says it's not as bad as it seems.

Terry Davidson, director of engineering and regulations and Sarah MacLeod-Neilson, surface water quality coordinator, with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority have been taking snow samples to help model the melt in the river and its tributaries. They don't predict much flooding along the river during the coming melt. (Stu Mills/CBC)

"We don't actually expect over the next couple days to see much movement in the main water courses, some of the smaller drains and creeks may open up but we don't expect to see the Rideau River open up just because the snow pack has the ability to absorb all that rain," he explained.

Sarah MacLeod-Neilson is one of the conservation authority's scientists taking core samples of the snow pack in order to predict the melt.

"We want a measure of the snow depth and then the total weight of our cores to have an idea of the water equivalency of our snow pack," MacLeod-Neilson said.

Orléans Coun. Mathew Luloff said he spent Thursday addressing flooding concerns across his ward.

Orléans councillor Matthew Luloff is working in the ward to help residents get storm drains cleared and address historically flood prone areas. (Stu Mills/CBC)

"Residents are incredibly worried about what's going to happen on their streets. That's why we have our roads crew really really concentrating on the catch basins right now to make sure those catch basins are clear. If residents have the opportunity and the strength to get out there and help us to chip away at those storm drains that's going to make all the difference,"  says Luloff who is working in the ward full time with rain expected overnight Thursday.

Luloff says the areas of highest concern for him are Convent Glen, Orléans Wood, Queenswood Heights and, especially, Fallingbrook.

The worries about clearing storm drains are keeping Bryden Denyes, area manager of core roads for the City of Ottawa, busy as well. 

He says crews are working as hard as they can to hit known trouble spots and fill potholes.

Bryden Denyes, area manager core road for the city of Ottawa says his crews are working to clear storm drains and fix pot holes ahead of the melt. The city also has sand bags and sand on stand by in case flooding does happen. (Stu Mills/CBC)

"Spring is definitely starting to come out now. We're doing active drainage operations for localized flooding on roadways and sidewalks. We're also ensuring we have a complete inventory of sandbags and sand for residents so we're monitoring conditions. We work very closely with Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, Ottawa river keepers and Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority to get flood predictions," Denyes said.


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