There’s nothing like a strong spring flood on the Ottawa to clean things up and expose weaknesses. This year’s melt is stronger than it’s been in a while, with every river, creek and stream between here and Lake Timiskaming draining meltwater from the Laurentian Shield to the Ottawa’s intersection with the St. Lawrence. The Ottawa’s flood will continue until every watershed has drained its snowpack, usually by mid-June. According to experts like Norm St. Aubin, we can expect several crests depending on the depth of the snow and the intensity of spring rains. I’m not referring to here and now.
Wikipedia: The Ottawa River drains into the Lake of Two Mountains and the St. Lawrence River at Montreal. The river is 1,271 kilometres (790 mi) long; it drains an area of 146,300 square kilometres (56,500 sq mi), 65 percent in Quebec and the rest in Ontario, with a mean discharge of 1,950 cubic metres per second (69,000 cu ft/s).
The average annual mean waterflow measured at Carillon dam, near the Lake of Two Mountains, is 1,939 cubic metres per second (68,500 cu ft/s), with average annual extremes of 749 to 5,351 cubic metres per second (26,500 to 189,000 cu ft/s). Record historic levels since 1964 are a low of 529 cubic metres per second (18,700 cu ft/s) in 2005 and a high of 8,190 cubic metres per second (289,000 cu ft/s) in 1976.
Before the Carillon Dam was completed in the early ’60s, this area flooded up to where Halcro and Wharf roads join. Since then, Hydro Quebec has recorded five years in which the flood crested above the 25-year mark and one year (1976) when it stopped inches short of the 100-year mark. When Tom Mulcair was Jean Charest’s environment minister, he enacted legislation which made it illegal for municipalities to allow construction of any permanent structure within the 25-year line and no permanently inhabited structure within the 100-year mark. Since then, the province has walked it back to allow areas between the 25-year and 100-year lines to be backfilled once a developer is able to satisfy the ministry’s wetland-flipping requirement.
Yesterday I walked Sandy Beach. I stood where Nicanco proposes to build townhouses. It’s squishy soft underfoot, with the Viviry feeding dozens of freshets through the wetlands Nicanco now has permission to backfill.
Nicanco may have obeyed the letter of the law but I’m curious to see if it will be able to satisfy the more exacting, implacable rules of nature. Will the storm sewers in the proposed 100-door townhouse development be above high water? (I’m assuming every one of these structures will be built on concrete slab without a basement, finished or otherwise.) Will Pine Beach occasionally resemble Pincourt’s rue Duhamel, with makeshift walkways, diesel pumps and sandbagged manholes? Will the sanitary sewers be able to continue pumping sewage into the collectors?
This doesn’t necessarily mean the project can’t be built, but Hudson’s taxpayers need to be reassured they won’t be on the hook every time the Ottawa River demonstrates it doesn’t care where the bureaucrats draw their little red lines.