By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
As floods rage in northern Ontario, the consequences of the cuts to flood prevention are being felt as CLOCA deals with rising water in Oshawa.
The provincial government recently cut funding for flood management programs in half, having previously given conservation authorities in Ontario $7.4 million.
In order to combat flooding in Ontario, the federal government recently announced $45,000 in funding will be provided under the National Disaster Mitigation Program.
Chris Darling, the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority’s (CLOCA) chief administrative officer, told The Oshawa Express the organization will have to look at the programs it has and look for efficiencies somewhere else, as well as alternative funding arrangements and possible cuts to various programs and services.
Darling says water levels in Lake Ontario are above average for this time of year, but still slightly below the records highs of 2017.
“There hasn’t been any riverine flooding as of yet,” he says. “We are starting to have some concerns with the water levels in Lake Ontario.”
But concerns remain for CLOCA, and Darling says it is possible for the flooding in other parts of the province to occur here in Oshawa and Durham Region as well.
“The potential for flooding exists anywhere near a riverine system, or water-based lake system as well,” he explains. “We’ve certainly seen more frequent major rain events and precipitation events that’s resulted in flooding not only in cottage country in Ontario, but in the eastern provinces as well.”
According to Darling, residents can take precautions to help mitigate flooding within their own homes.
“There’s things you can do such as helping the rain actually infiltrate into the ground. Quite often in major rain events the municipal infrastructure and storm sewers become over capacity and can’t handle the extra rain water, which then results in rising waters along the riverbeds and watercourses as well, which creates overland flooding,” he explains.
Darling notes by increasing infiltration, the amount of overland flow which contributes to increased elevation in lakes, rivers and other bodies of water is reduced.
Back flow preventers – people can hook them up in their homes as well. Roof leaders that can lead onto your lawn to promote infiltration, so there’s a number of actions that the individual homeowners can take,” he said.
With climate change comes warmer weather, but also wilder weather, Darling explains.
“So, we are seeing increased precipitation events, so we might have fewer storms, but when we do have rainstorms we’re finding that the amount of precipitation is much higher than in the past as well, and we’re also seeing that the spring snow melt is increasing as time goes on as well, which contributes to springtime flooding,” explains Darling.
He says the warmer weather from climate change also contributes to the rain events that Ontario and other areas are seeing.