Rising water levels throughout Muskoka are concerning but still under control according to updates from Muskoka District Council.
Large amounts of rainfall and spring melt have caused a surge in water levels in Muskoka. During yesterday’s District Council meeting, District commissioners and municipal mayors all gave status updates on the water situation throughout the region.
James Steele, Commissioner of Engineering and Public Works for the District stated that significant rainfall and spring melt have caused water levels in Muskoka to rise significantly. According to Steele, there was a significant impact on certain culverts and water-regulating structures several weeks ago, but the situation has stabilized. He was followed by District Commissioner of Health Services Norm Barrette, who commented on the ongoing coordination to respond to flooding concerns. This involves daily meetings of an emergency control group in the town of Huntsville to monitor water levels. Barrette stated that presently the district was primarily in a facilitating role, such as making sandbags available. According to Barrette, the district has over 100,000 sandbags in supply which are available upon request. Barrette stated that the district is ready to engage in direct involvement with flood response if it is needed.
Huntsville Mayor Nancy Alcock spoke of the current situation in Huntsville.
“We obviously haven’t declared an emergency. The water levels in the lakes north of Huntsville, and the Big East River which are generally our significant flooding areas started to decrease about two days ago. We think that it may have crested yesterday,” Alcock said.
Alcock said that there is a rise in water levels in Mary Lake, Fairy Lake and the Muskoka River. But similar to the trend shown in lakes north of Huntsville Alcock says she predicts these rising water levels will begin to decrease as well. Alcock also emphasized that residents have access to support including sandbags.
Bracebridge Mayor Rick Maloney stated that the town has seen a large increase in water levels, but the situation is being monitored.
“We’ve seen a significant rise to the more susceptible flood-prone areas, the historic flood-prone areas in town,” Maloney said.
Currently River Road in Bracebridge has partially closed as well as certain areas of the wharf. Maloney stated that the Bracebridge staff has yet to bring together an emergency control group as was done in Huntsville but will continue monitoring the situation over the next several days.
Maloney stated that messaging was going out to town residents stressing the dangers of current water conditions.
“Stay away from fast-moving water, obey closed road signs and other warning signs,” Maloney said.
Maloney stated that Bracebridge is directing residents to the Voyent Alert app which is supported by the district to provide real-time notifications of water conditions. This is important according to Maloney as issues and changes can happen very quickly.
Muskoka Lakes Mayor Peter Kelley stated that the township was several days behind Huntsville in seeing water level rises but was already seeing significant increases in water levels.
“The water in Lake Joseph went up 16 to 18 inches in about three days. Which is absolutely alarming,” Kelley said.
Kelley highlighted areas between Torrance and Bala as key areas of risk for flooding. This has previously been the case when this area saw higher water levels in 2013 and 2019. However, Kelley said he was confident that all of Lakes Muskoka, Rosseau, and Joseph would be safe.
Kelley said that the Muskoka Lakes emergency group was meeting daily and that residents could find updates on water levels from the recently created page on the township website. Kelley wanted to reiterate for residents to stay away from fast-moving water, not go on any ice which is left on any lakes and that sandbags are available for residents. Kelley stated that it will be several days before the full picture of risk is known.
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