If the lake level continues to rise as predicted, Dock Area residents should be prepared to protect their homes, and could possibly face evacuation.
Brett Ruck, the Town’s environmental supervisor, met with about 30 people Friday afternoon at the community centre to bring them up to date on the impact of the rising lake level, which has surpassed 2017. He also outlined Town staff efforts to mitigate potential impacts as it continues to rise.
But there may come a point where the Town can do no more, he warned.
A report sent to about 100 people by retired mining engineer Ron Simkus before the meeting indicated the water was already about five inches above the record high of 2017, and could go up another five inches in coming weeks.
Ruck was able to show residents, with the maps he’s using to model the impact of water rising to certain levels, how their waterfront homes would be affected.
However, it’s not so much the water level that is to be feared, he said, but the wave action from high winds and the damage it can cause.
The Town has been working on shoreline protection for several years, and has learned from 2017, he said. He is now focused on flooding prevention as the more immediate concern.
There have been more bladders added along Melville Street, and more can be ordered for protection against higher levels, he said. There are silent pumps trying to cycle water from drains back to the lake, some manhole covers have been sealed, and check valves installed in some of the sewers to prevent them from overflowing.
However, there are still challenges to overcome. The Town will continue to make sandbags available to residents, but Ruck said he has learned that due to flooding not only in NOTL but other areas, the bags are in short supply.
And water from wave action, caused by wind and by boats, could breach any protection in place.
A mild wind early last week indicated what can occur, and there are likely higher winds to come, he said.
In the event the Town’s actions to date don’t contain the water, he warned residents, “you need to seriously start thinking about protecting your own homes.”
“Water containment for us is crucial. If we lose containment, you have to look after yourselves.”
Although he has an action plan that includes several ways of attacking the problem, he said, “please keep in mind nothing is 100 per cent.”
One of the concerns voiced by King’s Point residents was water reaching their electrical room.
Tim Curtis, president of NOTL Hydro, was on hand to assure residents there was little likelihood of power disruption from rising water — anything underground wouldn’t be affected, he said, and water would have to rise significantly above the cement pads on which transformers sit to cause damage. If that happens, each transformer — there are seven of them along the waterfront — only serves about six to eight homes.
He said they’re working at putting sandbags around the transformers, and might have to look at elevating them in the future, “but we can’t do that overnight.”
But he couldn’t reassure the residents of King’s Point, who said they rely on a little $20 pump to keep water out of their electrical room.
“That’s saving us,” said one resident of the waterfront condominiums.
“Without that pump, we’d be dead in the water.”
Ruck also explained the work on the waterfront path to stabilize the ground and allow for heavy machinery to work on soil erosion.
The path will end up looking as it did before the work, he explained, but will continue to provide access for equipment if necessary in the future. “Who’s to say next year or the year after, this won’t happen again.”
He also addressed the issue of poor communication in the past with Dock Area residents, explaining being “in the moment, trying to get things done.”
The meeting was called to provide information and the logic behind what is being done now, he added.
There were also positive comments and praise at the meeting directed at Town staff — as one Dock Area resident pointed out, the lake level has already risen higher than it was in 2017, and as of last Friday, residents were not seeing the flooding they did two years ago. “Whatever you’re doing, it’s working.”