Flood messages more than doubled in 2018: ERCA annual report

ERCA says Lake Erie water levels have been high for the past few years.

The conservation authority expects lake levels to remain high

Lake Erie water levels are expected to remain high, according to Richard Wyma. (Essex Region Conservation Authority)

There were 45 flood messages issued by the Essex Region Conservation Authority in 2018, the most in the last three years.

That number, which includes messages about watershed conditions, flood watches, flood warnings and wind warnings, is a 55 per cent increase over 29 messages in 2017.

Those numbers are found in the 2018 ERCA annual report.

General manager of ERCA Richard Wyma said over the last few years, Lake Erie has been observed to have high water levels.

That means is less wind is needed for the water to cause damage on the landscape, and more flood messages.

"We're expecting lake levels in Lake Erie to again, remain high, and perhaps even exceed record highs that we've seen on Lake Erie, so that causes some concern as well," he said.

Wyma says there has been an increase in the number of permits issued for shoreline infrastructure on personal properties. (Frank J. Shepley)

This spring, there's a potential for more flooding along the shoreline communities, according to Wyma.

Emergency preparedness

The conservation authority plans to tackle these higher lake levels by working with municipalities to ensure people are prepared for potential flooding.

According to the annual report, in 2018 ERCA held a workshop for municipal officials tasked with flood preparedness to talk about coordination and communications.

Wyma said the water that's in the Detroit River and Lake Erie came from elsewhere in the Great Lakes system, which may have been snow and ice cover in Lake Superior at one point.

Some homeowners have been working to improve the shoreline along their property, according to Wyma, and the authority has seen an increase in permits issued for shoreline infrastructure for personal properties.

"I think on a local level, people just have to take a look at what they can do to protect their own homes and properties," Wyma said.

With files from Flora Pan


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