Cataraqui Conservation extends water safety statement for inland lakes and streams

A rural roadway, flooded out due to high water levels in inland lakes and streams. Photo via Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority.

With a freezing rain warning in place for Kingston and the area, the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority has extended its water safety statement for local inland lakes and streams.

Having issued a water safety statement and shoreline conditions statement prior to the blizzard Kingston experienced leading up to Christmas, the local Conservation Authority is extending the former statement “due to high flows and water levels and the forecast for more rain.”

“Weather forecasts are calling for a mix of precipitation for January 4 and January 5, including rain and freezing rain,” Cataraqui Conservation said in a press release on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023.

“Total amounts and form of precipitation are uncertain, but forecasts suggest a range between 10 – 30 mm+, the bulk of which will fall during the afternoon/evening of January 4 and into the early hours of January 5.”

The statement goes on to say that some forecasts suggest that southern portions of the region are more likely to experience mostly rain, and that areas further north are more likely to experience a mix of precipitation.

These conditions pose risks, the Conservation Authority said, as elevated runoff from the precipitation can be expected, particularly in areas with saturated ground conditions following the recent rainfall and snow melt. At the same time, current stream flows and water levels on area lakes are considered high for this time of year – many, Cataraqui Conservation said, are currently at springtime levels. With the precipitation in the forecast, further increases are expected, especially if higher rainfall amounts occur.

Water flows through water control structures, such as locks and dams, are also currently high. Cataraqui Conservation said that water managers are increasing discharge through dams to “balance water levels and mitigate, as much as possible, negative impacts.”

“Cataraqui Conservation is urging caution around all dams (inflow and outflow channels) and fast-flowing watercourses. Respect the hazards in these areas by obeying all warning signs, and keep away from booms, buoys, and barriers. Stay well back from the water’s edge above and below dams and hydroelectric stations. Creek banks and lake shorelines may be slippery, increasing the chance of falling in,” the regional Conservation Authority relayed.

“A further deterioration of ice conditions is also expected. Cataraqui Conservation does not measure ice thickness for advising the public about ice conditions for recreational activities. Ice conditions can vary considerably from one waterbody to the next and within a single water body.”

The rainfall in the forecast may also cause roadway ponding, which “may be especially problematic in urban areas and where storm drains and catch basins are blocked by ice and snow or debris.” Motorists should exercise caution in areas prone to roadway flooding, such as Gardiners Road at the CN Rail underpass.

Cataraqui Conservation emphasized that widespread flooding is not expected at this time.

“However, some localized inundation of low-lying areas may occur. If you witness flooding and/or require assistance your first point of contact is the local municipality,” the statement reads.

The Conservation Authority said staff will continue to monitor conditions and forecasts, and update the statements it issues as needed. The current watershed conditions water safety statement will remain in effect until Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, at 11:59 p.m., unless updated before.

For up-to-date flooding information from the local Conservation Authority, visit Cataraqui Conservation’s flood forecasting and information page.

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