No way to stop 2019 flooding, officials say

river meeting

by Terry Myers

Despite the best efforts of everyone managing water levels on the Ottawa River, there were simply not enough dams and reservoirs to prevent the devastating flooding of the spring of 2019.

And that includes the water levels above the Des Joachims dam at Rolphton.

That was the message Saturday morning at the first of four public meetings this weekend held to address questions from residents impacted by the flooding throughout the Ottawa Valley.

Hosted by Steve Bennett, mayor of Laurentian Valley, Pembroke Mayor Mike Lemay, and local MPP and Minister of Natural Resources John Yakabuski, the meeting included representatives from both the Ottawa River Regulation Secretariat and Ontario Power Generation.

More than 250 people packed the hall at the Pembroke and Area Community Centre to hear them explain why more wasn’t done to control this year’s spring water levels.

By the end, however, most still seemed unhappy with the answers they were given.

Deep River Councillor Bob McLaren said he has never seen anything like the river levels this spring in the 40 years that he has lived in Deep River.

“I look at OPG and I blame them,” he said.

McLaren said he never noticed “any significant lowering” of the river prior to the spring runoff, while above the dam at Deux Rivieres, conditions were “bone dry.”

“You can’t convince me, or anyone in this room, that you are managing this river to the best of your ability,” McLaren said to cheers from the crowd.

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