Hydro-Quebec info meet on water management flood control popular with Outaouais residents
There was a great turnout for the information meeting on water management and flood control in the Outaouais November 6, at the Ramada Plaza Manoir, hosted by Hydro-Quebec and the Ottawa River Regulation Board.
The well-organized event featured water management engineers and experts, environmental consultants, a comprehensive video, flow charts and analysis on the complex subject of how reservoirs and river flows are managed in the region.
We learned that the watershed that drains into the Outaouais, three times bigger than Switzerland, is comprised of 13 principal reservoirs managed by Hydro Quebec, the Environment Ministry, Ontario Power Generation and Public Services Canada.
For many visitors, victims of the major floods of 2017, 2019, there was a quest to understand how much had been learned from these crises and how this could be helpful in handling the upcoming spring 2020 run-off. One victim of both floods pointed out that after living along the Ottawa River for generations, her family is convinced there is better control to be done than was accomplished prior to both recent floods.
Hydro-Quebec water management engineer Annie Marcotte pointed out that “There is a cocktail of factors that play into possible flooding, such as winter snow cover, rain and warming weather.”
But fully 60% of the vast watershed flowing into the Outaouais from the far north does not benefit from reservoir control. And where water reached historic levels in 2019, water was not able to be controlled.
However, much can be and is done with flood reduction measures undertaken annually in preparation for the spring run-off which peaks in April and May. “Typically this involves emptying the principal reservoirs in the winter when they are at their lowest levels before the spring snow melt begins. This available storage volume is then used as the spring melt progresses to reduce downstream flows,” says the Ottawa River Planning Board.
At an environment booth, Ariane Bouchard-Leroux and Frédéric Vigeant, consultants for Hydro-Quebec, answered questions on how climate change and the environment are important factors in water management dynamics.
An independent review of dam management is not planned, say organizers, something the public is asking for. Another request by residents living near the river is better organization on the part of muncipalities in matters of communication and resource management during crises such as the 2017 and 2019 floods.
This open house information meeting continues with on-the-road visits to Maniwaki, Campbell’s Bay, Chelsea, Gracefield and Masson-Angers, among others.