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Flood warnings issued for Lake Nipissing shoreline

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The North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority (NBMCA) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) have issued Flood warnings for the Lake Nipissing shoreline – upgrading the flood threat from a watch issued earlier in the day.

A flood warning was issued Friday for the Lake Nipissing shoreline in North Bay, Callander and the Parks Creek watershed. (Supplied/North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority)

NBMCA has also issued a flood warning for the Parks Creek watershed and a flood outlook continues for the other areas of the North Bay-Mattawa watershed

Flood warnings are issued when flooding is imminent or occurring within specific watercourses and municipalities while flood outlooks give notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts, snow melt, high winds or other conditions in a region.

“Residents in the Lake Nipissing area should keep a close watch on conditions and exercise caution around shorelines and low-lying areas,” said the ministry in a news release at 10 p.m. on Friday.

Ministry officials said a strong low-pressure system brought significant rainfall to the area late last week and over the weekend followed by continued light rain throughout the week.

“Recent rain events combined with dormant vegetation and saturated soils resulted in seasonal water levels increasing significantly,” read the release.

“Lake Nipissing water levels are high and continue to rise.”

Friday’s average level for Lake Nipissing was measured at 196.16m just below the maximum ‘non-damage’ level of 196.22m.

“Flooding has been reported in the Lavigne area along the shoreline of Lake Nipissing with water levels rising onto properties,” said the ministry.

Residents and visitors – especially those in low-lying areas and along shorelines – are encouraged to monitor conditions and prepare accordingly. Structures such as homes, boat houses and docks could be at risk of flooding if located near water bodies. Flooding in historically known flood-prone areas can occur and existing flood problems may intensify.

“Residents in these areas are encouraged to monitor conditions and prepare accordingly,” said MNRF officials.

Officials added that shorelines and banks adjacent to waterbodies are very slippery and unstable at this time and when combined with cold, fast-flowing water, pose a serious hazard.

The ministry is closely monitoring the weather and developing watershed conditions.

Unless updated the MNRF warning remains in effect until Thursday.

“NBMCA has initiated operations of the Parks Creek Backflood Control structure, located at Eva Wardlaw Conservation Area in North Bay,” said Chitra Gowda, NBMCA flood warning coordinator, in a news release Friday afternoon.

More information on Parks Creek Backflood Control can be found here.

“Right now we have our back flow structure operating right now,” said NBMCA lead hand Layne Duguette speaking with CTV News.

“What happens is we need to stop the flow of Lake Nipissing creeping into Parks Creek.”

The conservation authority has put seven ‘stop logs’ in each of its three bays at the back flow structure to stop the water from getting into Parks Creek.

“We (also) have two huge submersible pumps in our back flow structure pumping water out of Parks Creek, around the dam and back into Lake Nipissing,” said Layne.

North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority flood warning coordinator Chitra Gowda (left) and lead hand Layne Duguette (right) speak with CTV News about watershed conditions in the North Bay and Parks Creek area on April 19, 2024. (Ian Campbell/CTV News Northern Ontario)

Conservation officials said high winds could pose a significant risk and cause damages along with upcoming rainfall events.

“Right now we're able to keep the levels at a fairly alright level, a safe level,” said Gowda, speaking with CTV News Friday evening.

“However, everything depends on the wind action and the water levels of Lake Nipissing so if those increase then there is a risk of flooding in the low-lying areas."

Officials told CTV News that they can see white peaks on the lake and the wind is pushing the water back into Parks Creek causing the potential for more flooding in low-lying areas and that is why they already have the pumps running.

“Keep an eye on those water levels definitely, keep monitoring our website,” said Chitra.

“Our media releases are updated from time to time and we’ve notified the city of North Bay as well.”

NBMCA flood warnings and flood outlook are in effect until 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday unless updated.

North Bay Mayor Peter Chirco speaking with CTV News from Parks Creek at about 8 p.m. on April 19, 2024. (Ian Campbell/CTV News Northern Ontario)

North Bay Mayor Peter Chirico was out at Parks Creek Friday evening to check on the situation.

“We’re taking it very seriously,” he said.

“We want to make sure that we protect all of our residents that are prone to flooding due to the backup of Parks Creek.”

Chirico said the city’s public works staff will be assisting in any way they can under the guidance of NBMCA.

On Sunday, municipal staff established a sandbag filling station to provide sand and sandbags to residents at no charge.

With files from CTVNorthernOntario.ca journalist Ian Campbell

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