Spring Safety: Be Careful Around Waterways

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) is issuing an important reminder to residents of the dangers that exist near bodies of water at this time of year and urging the public to keep family members and pets away from the edges of all waterways. Spring is approaching and with warmer temperatures, people look forward to getting back outdoors. However, warmer temperatures will also bring rain, melting snow and shifting ice which can contribute to higher, faster flowing water in watercourses.

Although TRCA’s watersheds have received average amounts of snow and above seasonal temperatures so far this winter, risks still exist with melting snow and ice around watercourses. Several thaw periods have also helped to decrease the winter snowpack amount. Melting snow due to warming temperatures, combined with spring rainfall and frozen ground conditions throughout the jurisdiction could contribute to higher and faster flowing water in local watercourses. The formation of significant ice cover in watercourses in TRCA’s jurisdiction has been very limited this winter season and there are currently no active ice jams.

Slippery and unstable streambanks and extremely cold water temperatures can also lead to dangerous conditions close to any body of water. Ice cover remaining on watercourses or lakeshore areas will weaken and become unstable with warmer temperatures.

Be safe this spring and remember the following tips:

• Keep family members and pets away from the edges of all bodies of water.
•  Avoid all recreational activities in or around water, especially near ice jams or ice-covered watercourses.
• Do not attempt to drive or walk through flooded roads or fast-moving water.
• If you live close to the water, move objects, such as chairs or benches, away from the water’s edge to avoid losing them during potential spring high water.

The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board (ILOSRB) is forecasting high water levels on Lake Ontario for this spring and summer (https://ijc.org/en/loslrb/watershed/forecasts), however, it's not certain whether levels will reach critical thresholds as in 2017 and 2019.

The range of forecast levels depends on various factors including: the inflows from Lake Erie, which are currently well above normal levels; the spring rainfall and runoff amounts into Lake Ontario which are yet to occur; as well as the spring peak flow of the Ottawa River into the St. Lawrence River, which will influence the outflow of Lake Ontario at the Moses-Saunders Dam in Cornwall.

For more information about Lake Ontario water levels and forecast, please visit the International Lake OntarioSt. Lawrence River Board website at https://ijc.org/.

For information about current flood mitigation efforts on the Toronto Islands, please reference the City of Toronto’s media release from February 25, 2020 at www.toronto.ca.

For more information, contact your local Conservation Authority:

• Toronto & Region Conservation Authority (416) 661-6514
• Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (905) 895-1281
• Conservation Halton (905) 336-1158
• Credit Valley Conservation  (905) 670-1615
• Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (905) 579-0411
• Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (905) 885-8173
• Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (705) 424-1479
• Kawartha Conservation (705) 328-2271

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