Cataraqui Conservation extends water safety statement for second time in month

Kingston Mills Locks spring 2022. Photo by Jessica Foley/Kingstonist.

For the second time this month, the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority has extended its water safety statement for local inland lakes and streams.

Having issued a second water safety statement ahead of a potential bout of freezing rain last week, the local Conservation Authority is extending the former statement again “due to high flows and water levels, and the forecast for more rain.”

“Weather forecasts are calling for rain January 12 and 13,” Cataraqui Conservation said in a press release on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023.

“The total amount is uncertain, but forecasts suggest a range of between 25 – 40 mm+, the bulk of which falling during the afternoon/evening of January 12 and morning of January 13.”

The statement goes on to say that elevated runoff from the forecast rain can be expected due to bare, frozen ground conditions.

Streams remain above average and lake levels are very high for this time of year, following recent snowmelt and rainfall events; Some lakes are already higher than springtime levels, Cataraqui Conservation said, noting that the forecast rain may cause streams to reach springtime levels again, similar to those seen earlier this month. With the precipitation in the forecast, further increases are expected, especially if higher rainfall amounts occur. Lake levels are expected to increase further and remain high for weeks.

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.

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