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The Weather Network
Aug. 19, 2019 | Monday
Local News
Town plans emergency meeting as record lake levels prompt flood worries
Town worker Blake Durocher places sand bags for flood protection along the Niagara River shoreline on River Beach Drive. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

With Lake Ontario waters now at a record level, the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is holding an emergency meeting Friday for residents worried about protecting their properties from flooding.

The meeting is at the community centre at 1:30 p.m. and will address people's concerns and provide more information about the town’s flood protection plan.

This week the water level in Lake Ontario passed the critical mark of 75.75 metres recorded in 2017 and water is expected to continue to rise throughout summer. By Tuesday afternoon, the level had reached 75.83 metres.

Notice of the meeting was provided to residents by town staff who went door to door in at-risk areas along the Lake Ontario and Niagara RIver shoreline.

Brett Ruck, manager of environmental services for the town, said he is putting extra measures in place to protect against potential flooding. The meeting will address what is already being done and what residents can do to protect themselves.

“We’re going to talk about flood protection and what we’re doing. We’re going to talk a little bit about what people can do for themselves. And then I’m going to explain to them, if we lose containment, this is what to expect,” Ruck said in an interview.

While he said he can't predict if the sanitary sewer system will overflow, if that does happen, residents in the affected area will need to leave their homes.

“We won’t have any ability to deal with the sewage at that time because the sewage system would be compromised. We’re taking steps now to try to eliminate that if a little water gets in there. But if we lose full containment of the sanitary system there’s no way for people to use water, flush it or anything else.”

He said it’s hard to predict how high the water will rise, but the town is preparing for 25 to 30 centimetres above 2017 levels. That would mean the water level could exceed 76 metres.

“If it goes beyond that I don’t know how we’re going to be able to control the river at that point,” Ruck said.

Lord Mayor Betty Disero said Friday’s meeting will provide a forum to answer questions about the potential flooding and to relay the predictions about the water levels made by the International Joint Committission, a bi-national organization to resolve boundary water disputes between Canadian and U.S. governments.

“It depends on what the weather is doing, because it is the waves that are causing issues, in terms of flooding. We’ll be talking about what those predictions are, we’ll be talking about what we’ve been doing and what the priority locations are in terms of flooding prevention,” Disero said in an interview.

She said high priority locations near the sailing club are the area by Melville Street and the culvert near Delater Street. Crews were out on Tuesday placing sandbags and flood protection bladders, which are temporary barriers, in the area.

Sandbags will continue to be available for residents near the shoreline and pumps are in place.

Ruck said a 2019 action plan has been laid out and the town is on track to protect at-risk areas from flooding.

“The end of Nelson park, King’s Point condominiums are going to need some sandbags. I know there’s some residents over by the lighthouse that are going to need some sandbags, as well,” Ruck said.

The town had been working on protecting the shoreline from erosion, but the focus now has shifted to flood prevention. Ruck said the area has been secured for erosion until a permanent solution is complete.

“Erosion is in place, we’re comfortable with that. There are a few things we still need to do, but they’re minor,” Ruck said.

Disero said the town is aware of people removing the small stones from the rock berm protecting the shoreline along River Beach Drive. She said police have been informed and cameras may be installed if there is time, but surveillance isn’t the priority.

“Right now, it’s all about flood prevention. I don’t want to waste time putting up cameras or putting up signs at this point. It’s all about flood protection because waters continue to rise,” Disero said.

“We’re already above the 2017 levels, which caused havoc. So far, so good with what we’ve put in, but it’s going to continue to rise beyond that, and we’re going to make sure that we’re protected.”

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