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GRCA issues widespread flood warning

The Grand River breached its banks in Fergus on April 10. GRCA officials have warned of flooding throughout the watershed through this weekend.  photo by Mike Robinson

GRCA issues widespread flood warning

by Chris Daponte

WELLINGTON CTY.

A Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) official says melting snow and significant rainfall have combined to produce the highest discharge levels at the Shand Dam in Belwood since 2001.

“And it will get higher,” GRCA spokesman Dave Schultz said on the afternoon of April 10.

He told the Advertiser water levels at all reservoirs in the GRCA watershed are high, which means the authority is increasing discharges at area dams to accommodate current flows and rainfall (about 30 to 45mm fell in the first part of the week), as well as the 50 to 70mm of rain expected on April 11 and 12.

“We expect high levels through the weekend, anyways,” Schultz said, noting it will take days to subside.

The increased river flows and reservoir levels started last week with melting snow, “And now you’re piling the rain on top of it,” Schultz explained.

The Grand River breached its banks through Fergus on April 10 and businesses along the river in Elora closed that day due to the imminent threat of flooding.

Schultz said the water breaches the board walk walls in Elora at around a flow of 110 cubic metres per second, and flows at the Shand Dam on April 10 were about 170m3/s (the highest they have been since 2001, when they reached about 200m3/s).

And flows in Elora would be higher than that, Schultz noted, due to other direct run-off in the area due to frozen ground.

“The water won’t soak in, it just runs off,” said Schultz.

Jennifer Burn, owner of Awareness Yoga, said on April 10 she expects her business to be flooded, but is hoping for the best.

“I’ve never seen [the water] come over the boardwalk since I’ve been here,” Burn said, noting she has operated out of the Mill Street building for four years.

“We are closed, obviously,” she said. “Now it’s literally wait and see ... I just hope it doesn’t get too high in the studio.”

Despite the very real threat of significant flooding for about a dozen businesses along the river boardwalk in Elora,  and a few low-lying properties in the area, Schultz said the next threshold for flooding for area businesses and homes is much higher.

“We don’t see any further threats to property,” he said of the Centre Wellington area, even if rainfall on April 11 and 12 reaches 70mm.

However, in the north, Schultz did not dismiss the possibility of flooding along the Conestogo River, a tributary to the Grand, in and around Drayton.

He explained Conestogo Lake does have more capacity than the reservoir in Belwood, but if the area received close to 70mm of rain, flooding could be a real possibility.

“We’ve asked municipal officials to keep an eye on levels in Drayton,” Schultz said.

He added the GRCA has already increased flows at the Conestogo Dam, but will re-evaluate the situation on April 11 and 12 to see if it should be increased even further.

The GRCA issued a flood warning on April 8 and again on April 10.

Officials are warning that banks adjacent to rivers and creeks are slippery and when combined with cold, fast-moving water pose a serious hazard. The GRCA is encouraging parents to keep children and pets away from water courses and off any remaining frozen water bodies.

For more information on flows, weather and reservoir conditions visit www.grandriver.ca.

The Maitland Valley Conservation Area (www.mvca.on.ca) and the  Saugeen Valley Conservation Area (www.svca.on.ca) which cover a portion northern Wellington County, as well as the Credit Valley Conservation (www.creditvalleyca.ca), which covers part of the Town of Erin, have also issued flood watches or warnings for their respective watersheds.

Vol 46 Issue 16

April 12, 2013

ReliableFord

Pet of The Week Autumn

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