The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) has advised that water levels in all area bodies of water are currently higher than normal for this time of year. Some persistent rainfall last week, combined with a few heavy rainfall events during storms, have pushed the RVCA coverage area into a “water safety statement” condition.
A water safety statement is issued by the RVCA when “high flows, unstable banks, melting ice or other factors that could be dangerous for recreational users such as anglers, canoeists, hikers, children, pets, etc.” are expected. However, flooding is not expected at this time.
While there have been a few days of on-and-off rain with average total rainfall amounts, other days have packed a much bigger punch. For example, the recorded amount of rainfall for North Grenville on the Civic Holiday, August 7, was 96.6 millimetres – nearly 10 cm of rain, or one third of a foot.
We rarely see the effects of such heavy rainfall in our day to day lives (besides having longer grass to mow) because the water is absorbed by the ground. However, this same rainfall will significantly raise the water level in open bodies of water where storm drains commonly let out as well.
What is the danger from increased water levels? In a word – flow! Flow rates can be much faster and far less predictable when water levels are high, creating higher risk even for experienced swimmers. Children may also not know the dangers until it is too late, and pets which are accustomed to jumping in the water may be taken by surprise when it is much harder than usual to return to shore.
“Until the water levels and flows recede, the RVCA advises the public to exercise extreme caution around all water bodies and dam structures, and remind children about the dangers of playing near open water,” reads a statement released by the RVCA. “All boaters and swimmers using the Rideau River and other larger water bodies are advised to exercise extreme caution due to much higher flows than normal over the next few days.”
The RVCA’s water safety statement was issued on August 10, and stays in effect until August 18. It may be extended if water levels continue to pose a threat. It is recommended that readers stay informed by checking the RVCA website regularly at https://www.rvca.ca/.