TSW doing a good job

I never thought I’d hear it.

I specifically went to the Soyers Lake Cottage Owners Association AGM this past Saturday because I wanted to hear the latest from the Coalition for Equitable Water Flow, or CEWF.

CEWF’s chair, Ted Spence, was the guest speaker.

I learned things about Parks Canada and the Trent Severn Waterway, as well as about CEWF, that I didn’t know.

For those who don’t know, CEWF is a volunteer organization established in 2006 to provide input to the Panel on the Future of the Trent Severn Waterway. It aims to represent the interests of more than 30,000 waterfront property owners on reservoir and flow-through lakes in Haliburton and Northern Peterborough Counties. There are 32-member lake associations, the majority in the county.

After viewing Spence’s 39-slide powerpoint, I now have a better handle on how complex managing the system is. I won’t be so quick to criticize and judge the TSW.

Neither is CEWF, with Spence saying the words I never thought I’d hear from CEWF. “They’ve done a pretty good job of it.”

Since 2016, the TSW has made their water management decisions based on a lot more data and analysis. For example, they’ve added real-time snow gauges to augment manual readings. They’ve upped their weather forecasting game. They do a better job of monitoring inflow and outflow. They do a precipitation and runoff model. They’ve also done routing models to see how the water flows.

Despite the fact we are seeing more extreme weather, such as milder winters with more rain and snow and more summer storms, we are not seeing the same flooding that we did in 2013 and 2017. In fact, more water ran through the system this year than in those years, and Minden was not flooded out.

As Spence pointed out, in 2019, even with 3.5 times the normal snowpack at the end of March and 180 per cent of normal rain in April, the flood levels were less than in 2017.

Of course, the Burnt River basin is taking the hit now.

Parks Canada announced the first of its summer drawdowns this past Friday. For most, it’s viewed as a good thing since the reservoirs are still quite high. With some predicting possible drought-like conditions, we’ll be interested to see how the rest of the summer unfolds.

Spence also provided some valuable information to waterfront owners that we would like to pass along.

Be aware of the increased risk of extreme flood levels, potentially with ice on the lakes.

Review your infrastructure and if appropriate make changes now to your dock systems, electrical and boat storage.

Be aware of the increased risk of low lake levels earlier in the season and at levels not previously experienced.

Finally, review infrastructure for low levels, including water lines, access, boat mooring, etcetera.

You can also do your bit by staying informed. Nowadays, people cannot say that they didn’t know, as both Parks Canada, the TSW and the CEWF provide volumes of information on their websites.

You can learn more about CEWF and monitor water levels at cewf.ca. For more on Parks Canada and the TSW, see www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/on/trentsevern/info/infonet

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