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Low flooding risk for Oshawa this season

By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter

Oshawa’s water levels are on track to be well below the record highs seen in 2019.

According to Alana McDonald, an environmental engineering technologist with CLOCA, Lake Ontario water levels, as well as streams and rivers, are looking better compared to the beginning of 2020.

“We were pretty worried because the levels were quite high at the start of the year – they were higher than the levels that we saw in both 2017 and 2019,” says McDonald. “However, we’ve been pretty fortunate, we’ve had some good weather this year, an early snow melt, and a relatively dry spring so far.”

McDonald says the last recorded water level was on May 6 at 75.39m high, which does put flood watch  in effect. She explains a flood watch happens if water levels are at 75.5m or greater, or 75.1m with wave heights of 2m or greater.

McDonald says a flood warning would occur with water levels at 75.7m or greater, or 75.5m with a wave height of 2m or greater.

“We have one now because we are at 75.39, and we did see quite a bit of wave activity,” says McDonald, adding the flood watch will likely be in effect until the end of May.

“We want people to have the time to prepare as we are relying on more independent action with everything going on right now,” says McDonald.

She says it’s important for residents, especially those living close to streams or lakes, to always be prepared just in case, by paying attention to the weather.

“If you see there’s 20 mm of rain coming, that’s usually a pretty good indication that we could see a rise in stream levels,” says McDonald.

In addition, McDonald suggests moving property away from the shorelines in the event of an oncoming storm to avoid damage, and adds it’s always good to start sandbagging early if there’s the possibility for severe weather.

Furthermore, McDonald says residents should pay heed to the flood statements.

“We try to give a fair warning if a flood event could be approaching,” she says.

While the Great Lakes are tracked by the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River Board, McDonald says CLOCA tracks Oshawa’s rivers and streams with stream gauges spread throughout the watershed that measure water levels in real time.

“We’re currently below average right now, which is good,” says McDonald, adding there’s always a chance of flooding.

“There’s definitely still a chance of some kind of flooding if we get storm events or a lot of wave activity, however we’re going to hit our peak soon and then we will start to see the seasonal decline in the coming weeks,” she says, adding that we’re on track to stay below the water levels in 2017 and 2019.