Rapidly rising water causes worry, road closures

by Brad Aubin

It’s a particularly wet Spring this year after record snow accumulation and frequent rain, with some areas of West Nipissing bracing for the worst as lakes and rivers rise and threaten shorelines and roads. Nearby areas were flooded, with Hwy 17 washed out and closed between North Bay and Mattawa over the Easter weekend and Bracebridge experiencing flooding in the following days. In West Nipissing, the worst appeared to affect the area of Field as the Sturgeon River rose quickly and overtook the banks.

While the weather was grim during the week of Apr. 22, with lots of rain and snowmelt, last weekend’s dry skies and cold weather enabled helped local waterways stabilize. Nonetheless, the community is not out of the metaphorical woods just yet, but WN Fire Chief Richard Maranda says that the signs are good.

“Unfortunately we’re still in a flood warning,” he shared on Monday, April 29. “It will all depend on Mother Nature and the sheer amount of rain we will be getting. As of yesterday, the Sturgeon River seems to be lowering fairly well. I also received an e-mail letting me know that the flow into the lake has been reduced, which is a great sign.” 

Lake Nipissing is fed from multiple rivers, including the Veuve and Wasi. Unlike the Sturgeon River, which is dammed, some of those rivers are not throttled. Keeping the lake level stable thus means stopping the flow at the Sturgeon River, making that body rise faster than any other in the area.

“Though we can dam to slow down the inflow from the Sturgeon River, most don’t have that mechanism. So we have to stop the water on the river, which then rises and gives headaches to properties all along the river,” explained Maranda. 

Of course, the lake was also at borderline flood level, having risen steadily over the last few weeks, but the rise has now slowed.

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Property owners on Leduc Rd had quite the scare last week, as water levels rose to flood-like heights. Luckily, the water has now receded for the time being.

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