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Water levels on the lower great lakes, Trent Severn, Ottawa River and St Lawrence are something else this year. In some areas the 2017 flood levels have already been exceeded.

Newsworthy from a boating and sailing perspective is the Ottawa River has been closed to all non emergency boat traffic for 400 km! All boats, canoes, kayaks, sailboats, tour boats.

There are a bunch of yacht clubs and marinas along this stretch including several big Ottawa yacht and sailing clubs.

My boats on a trailer, soI will be looking for other options this coming long week end (will likely head to some lakes on higher ground).



https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/ottawa-river-boat-ban-first-use-of-new-law-meant-to-protect-whales
 

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I’ve read arguments over flood control, but haven’t studied the situation. I know a few with places in the thousand island area, who get worked up. Seems like we should be able to move the water out to sea more effectively. I know mankind has screwed with the eco system here (dams, canals, basins, etc), I just don’t understand how they impact. Indeed, there has been a lot of rainfall, but still.
 
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Discussion Starter #4
I know mankind has screwed with the eco system here (dams, canals, basins, etc), I just don’t understand how they impact. Indeed, there has been a lot of rainfall, but still.
I have read this is a factor. My understanding is construction on/development of wetlands and flood plains reduce natures ability to absorb flood water, which I guess leaves it with no where to go but the natural choke points like the Lachine Rapids in Montreal and Chaudierre Falls in Ottawa.

It seems to me though, like in 2017, there is a lot of water. I understand the cold winter caused for a greater than normal amount of snow melt (the St Lawrence watershed goes pretty far north). Seems that is a contributing factor.

Here are a couple of clips from the news.

This one is down town Ottawa, so down stream of Lake Deschennes where sailing is popular. Apparently this bridge is going to be closed for quite a while.


Here's a 100 year old dam on a tributary to the Ottawa that was over topped for the first time.

 

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And it is only going to go higher...and to think that 6 years or so ago we were really worried about the levels dropping to historic lows..I remember Lake Michigan dropped 8" in one month(August)

Difference from average water level for Apr 10, 2019 (inches*)
Lake Michigan +5
Lake Superior +8
Lake Huron +12
Lake Erie +11
lake Ontario +20

Levels on Lake Superior and Lake Erie are expected to break records set in the 1980's sometime during the next six months, according to the Army Corps’ Detroit district office. Army Corp officials said they forecast expect “definite” record high levels for St. Clair and Erie in May.
 

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It’s another bad year indeed. Ottawa area is indeed awash. And most of the Great Lakes are forecast to peak at record, or near-record, levels. It could be worse than 2017.

The whole watershed is saturated, and as Arcb says, one of the main issues seems to be the degradation of natural holding basins like wetlands. The other seems to be the changing moisture patterns due to climate change.

We left Lake Ontario in 2017. Our little marina was awash. Most launches were delayed that year. We sailed out the St. Lawrence in July of that year. We encounter high water and much higher river currents all the way past Montreal. Kinda nice for our speeds/distances, but made anchoring in some areas rather tricky.

You folks have my sympathy.
 

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I can confirm the Chesapeake levels are way higher than normal. My boat is on the hard, but my friend's boat was so high on the pilings that you had to step *over* the ladder to get on the platform on the back of his boat. Usually it's 2-3 steps down the ladder. The water was close to even to the pier. No wonder they put in the first floating dock this year!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hmm. The dams are old, the flooding seems to be fairly new, at least on its current scale. Canada is the second largest producer of hydro electric power in the world (after China). There are a lot of dams. Over 160 in Quebec alone. Plus there is the St Lawrence Seaway; grain from the midwest, steel to motor city, cement, road salt...

I have read some interesting stuff about spillways being built around dams for extreme events. The stuff I read seemed to suggest it might not work out in the St Lawrence and Ottawa Valleys though, due to them being very deep and old valleys through old mountain ranges. I am always curious to read more ideas though. I find water works to be a fascinating topic (my Dad was a dam builder).
 

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Agree Capt. I had to nearly use a ladder once to board..and I'm quite spry..was simply too high.
The only benefit..is that I'm less concerned about my marina dredging the channel for me...but honestly...I say that facetiously..
 

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Hmm. The dams are old, the flooding seems to be fairly new, at least on its current scale.
Think about how old the dams are, compared to the age of the Great Lakes. They really are a very, very contemporary alterations of the geography. Humans think of old, as it relates to our puny average lifespans, compared to the planet itself. No doubt, the development of surrounding wetlands is an impact too.

I don't fully understand the engineering, but I read there is human decisioning at play with the dam systems along the entire lake eco system, certainly not just Canada. I highly suspect that nature would be doing a much better job of sorting this out, if we weren't intentionally holding water back.

No doubt there are entire towns built in the way of where the water would naturally go, if the dams weren't there. Perhaps the problem is a naturally human one. We build stuff thinking the planet is going to stay just the way we found it. The form we found it in will not be perpetual, no matter what we do.
 
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Think about how old the dams are, compared to the age of the Great Lakes. They really are a very, very contemporary alterations of the geography. Humans think of old, as it relates to our puny average lifespans, compared to the planet itself. No doubt, the development of surrounding wetlands is an impact too.

I don't fully understand the engineering, but I read there is human decisioning at play with the dam systems along the entire lake eco system, certainly not just Canada. I highly suspect that nature would be doing a much better job of sorting this out, if we weren't intentionally holding water back.

No doubt there are entire towns built in the way of where the water would naturally go, if the dams weren't there. Perhaps the problem is a naturally human one. We build stuff thinking the planet is going to stay just the way we found it. The form we found it in will not be perpetual, no matter what we do.
I totally agree. Nowadays we control the flow of water for the simple reason that if we didn't, the downriver cities that were built to the modern days water edge would flood. The Great Lakes Basin is a great example of just this, if they release more water, then Montreal would have some serious flooding, and guess where many politicians have to work..but being a large city, it would be devastating to the city to flood once again as it did in 2017.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I am in Montreal quite a bit. It's an interesting spot, being the highest naturally navigable spot on the St Lawrence system. It exists as it is because it was the furthest wooden sailing ships could reach into the great lakes system due to the Lachine Rapids, which is really what the lower locks on the seaway are circumventing. It's been permanently inhabited since 1642 and its first recorded flood was in December, 1642.

The area of Montreal that has been getting the worst of the flooding in recent years isn't really on the St Lawrence River. It's on the Ottawa River.

Not sure if I have a point, except that it's all complicated.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
I like these profile maps of the great lakes. This one shows the dams, which is kind of neat, there really aren't that many on the Great Lakes system itself, most are in tributaries leading into the St Lawrence system, like the Ottawa river.

The folks who were saying the dams are having an impact on the Thousand Islands area may have a point. The first dam after Lake Ontario, Iroquois, is basically right at the east end of the 1000 Islands and is a water level control dam.

However, there really aren't any dams that should effect water levels on Erie, Michigan or Huron. The big drop is Niagara Falls, the Niagara River isn't really dammed in the conventional sense. Basically there are sluice ways that divert water from the upper Niagara River around Niagara Falls to a big man made reservoir and then down through generating turbines, but this system is a diversion, its not really impeding the flow of the Niagara river or the lakes above it.

I added the red dot using paint to illustrate roughly where Montreal is on the system.
 

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