The City of Ottawa has established a Spring Freshet Taskforce each year since the 2017 freshet. The goal of the taskforce is to prepare for, monitor and respond to the needs of residents across the City. Much of the planning and operational response focuses on communities known to be impacted by seasonal flooding along the various rivers within the city, but especially along the Rideau River and Ottawa River.
Each year, sand bag filling stations are created for the benefit of residents who experience flooding on their properties. These stations are installed, as much as possible, in locations that are convenient to affected communities. The first stations for 2022 were installed on Thursday, March 10 at Public Works yards on Hurdman and in Greely. As sand bag stations come and go they will be updated simultaneously on the Spring Maintenance and Flood Control page and the Spring Flooding 2022 pages of the city website.
The Public Works Spring Freshet Taskforce is actively working with external partners to monitor water levels, which are currently normal or close to normal along the Ottawa River basin. Accordingly, there is no river flooding in the forecast right now, understanding this could change as we approach the pending spring freshet period.
The Term Freshet
The term freshet is commonly used to describe a large increase of water discharged in a river during spring months due to snow melt and sometimes rainfall. This can lead to seasonal flooding in low lying areas along rivers. The Ottawa River watershed, at approximately 146,000 km2, is an extremely large river system that experiences flooding to some degree every spring. The Ottawa River watershed conveys water from many rivers including the Rideau River. The Rideau River spring freshet typically peaks in advance of the Ottawa River.