Bay Ward Flood Meeting January 12, 2020 at 2 PM
Questions and Responses for Jeremy Roberts, MPP and Teresa Kavanagh, City Councillor
Flood Meeting Questions
- What modifiable factors need to be addressed immediately to reduce flooding of the Ottawa River?
- Can the Ottawa River levels be dropped before the spring runoff in years where the snowfall is heavy or when there has been no “January thaw”?
- Who controls the dams upstream from Ottawa and what is their role in controlling water levels? Are the dams coordinated? Does the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board have any authority?
- Why were there sections of the Ottawa River that were at record lows (i.e. a dry section of river near Deux-Rivières, Ont., and a nearly empty reservoir near the Des Joachims generating station, about 200 kilometers northwest of Ottawa)? Why wasn’t the flow through the dams at four Ottawa River power
generating stations managed to alleviate flooding downstream by allowing levels to rise in these areas? https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/opg-flood-review-1.5376942
- Are there plans to redesign the reservoir system to minimize future Flooding? Following recommendation #64 of the Special Advisor Flood Report, one operational recommendation was “a change of the reservoir refill date in the Water Management Plans for each power dam”. How and when will this be implemented?
- This Fall Councilor Kavanagh attended a “closed” round-table discussion in Ottawa hosted by Mr. Doug McNeil “to hear firsthand about the impacts of recent flood events and share ideas about how the province can be better prepared for flooding in the future”. What are the recommendations for the Ottawa River
and how will this impact our communities?
- Will the public get a warning every spring if weather conditions indicate a possible flood from the Ottawa
river? If so, who will issue the warning?
- We have been told that “work is being done in the city and province on the lessons learned from the last major flooding event and to improve response strategies for future events”. What lessons has the City of Ottawa and the province learned, will they coordinate and how will they improve resources to our communities in the next event?
- Is there an ACTION PLAN for the next Ottawa River flood? What is it?
- Can we rely on the Army to sandbag our properties in the future if needed? What factors determine a state of emergency?
- There is a section of Grandview Road in the flood plain that becomes impassable. What will be done about this?
- Is the province funding any studies to understand what the local impacts of climate change are expected to be in order to understand whether flooding is going to be a regular occurrence?
- Is the province dedicating any infrastructure funds to flood mitigation, and if so how do communities or municipalities access it? What are the criteria for the funding?
- The Conservative government has cut funding for flood management, will that be increased? Conservation Authorities are an important element of understanding flood impacts and mitigation. In fact, they were established in the wake of flooding from Hurricane Hazel back in the fifties. Have the recent cuts to their funding affected this mandate, and if so, is that mandate being taken over by other provincial bodies?
- Was there a change to the river management when Ontario Hydro was sold to Ontario Power Generation?
- Sandbags and alternatives: Anthony Di Monte, Ottawa’s general manager of emergency and protective services, estimated the city was left with 1.5 million used sandbags, which posed a health risk due to contamination (E. coli etc.) from failed/flooded septic systems and a disposal problem
( https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/what-happens-used-sandbags-1.5129134 ). Why were coferdams not made available? Although more expensive they can be reused.
- Why were the 2019 meetings with the province, RVCA and municipalities not open to the public?
Office of MPP Jeremy Roberts
Flooding Information Session – Questionnaire Responses
o The independent report concluded human error was not a contributing factor to the severity of the floods. The existing facilities simply did not have the capacity to deal with the amount of water that came as a result of various contributing factors.
o The snow on the ground as of April 1, 2019, was significantly higher than normal and higher than experienced in 2017 and 2018. Snow surveys
showed the upper portion of the basin had 150 to 188% of the norm. The total precipitation throughout the watershed was also higher than normal,
although not as high as in 2017. The accumulated April to May precipitation was approximately 125 to 175% of normal.
o I would defer this question to Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and will endeavor to set up community meeting with a representative from OPG
who can more adequately explain the technical aspects and practicalities of this question. As you can appreciate the operations and other variables
such as spring run-off greatly affect their decision making process and their impact on the Ottawa River.
o Dams are managed by their respective owners, OPG or the Province of Quebec. The Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board is responsible for
co-ordination and information sharing; it is not a control body with directive authority. Modifications to this arrangement have been proposed by the
report and I would advocate for reform.
o Three of the thirteen reservoirs are operated by OPG, the other ten are operated by the Province of Quebec.
o In Deux-Rivières, the water level was low because of the natural shape of the river, which McNeil noted can act as a “control point” during high flow
o While filling the reservoir near Des Joachims may have provided some relief to residents in Pemroke, it would have spelled disaster for people far upriver in Mattawa. o “Using the storage capacity at Des Joachims Generating Station to alleviate downstream flooding would have had a large impact on Mattawa
and provided negligible to no benefits at Pembroke.” The report said.
o I would be willing to contact the appropriate authorities and encourage them to explore possibilities of adding additional reservoir capacity or to get their professional opinion on prudency of this action.
o As an independent third party investigator operated these sessions there was no direct Provincial control over the format of the meetings. I advised
that these sessions be open to the public and have requested that the Ministry make any future sessions in this style as accessible to the public as possible.
o Additionally, an online consultation component was open for public participation
o The report indicated that one failing was a lack of effective communication between stakeholders, I will advocate for a more integrated warning
system to allow for more time for preparations in the event of expected flooding.
o The release of the report was the first step towards improving the province wide strategy for flooding. Major stakeholders such as the Ministry of the environment, and conservation authorities will review and vet the 66 recommendations for a province wide strategy that will ensure any future damage from flooding is mitigated to the best of our abilities.
o Identified areas of issue: Lack of Guidance for Considering Climate Change, Outdated Guidance on Flood-proofing Standards, Outdated Guidance on Hydrologic and Hydraulic Modelling, Outdated Guidance on Surveying and Mapping Standards, Limited Training, Outreach and Awareness.
o I am happy to engage with the City on any action plan that they put forward, and will advocate for provincial participation. We have shown and continue to show that engaging with our most important stakeholders, such as municipalities, is of utmost importance.
o The City of Ottawa and each separate municipality decide the criteria for declaring a state of emergency, the Province will be happy to lend assistance wherever and whenever possible, but has no jurisdiction over the Canadian Armed Forces. Traditionally the Army has always provided assistance to any municipality in its time of need. Last spring assistance came in the form of cadets and reservists in addition to professional engineer corps from Petawawa.
o Local road planning falls under the jurisdiction of the City of Ottawa.
o The provincial government provides less than 10% of the funding allocated to conservation authorities. We strengthened the mandate of conservation authorities by ensuring they would stick to their core responsibilities of protecting people and property. The funding reduction was not to touch flood mitigation efforts in any way.
o To the best of our understanding, there was no change to river management systems as a result of the transfer in 1999.
o It was my understanding that the city made commitments to use the sand in the most sustainable way possible, when possible. As you can appreciate, the city uses fill for many projects and sand in winter maintenance. Councillor Kavanagh can better speak to what has happened to the contents and what the City plans are.
o Given the effects of climate change making flooding a potentially more common occurrence, I would certainly advocate that we explore more methods that are sustainable and reusable in the future.
o As an independent third party investigator operated these sessions there was no direct Provincial control over the format of the meetings. I advised that these sessions be open to the public and have requested that the Ministry make any future sessions in this style as accessible to the public as possible