Ottawa River Flooding - Hydro Mismanagement or Climate change?
I'm writing this article on a rainy overcast morning, as I stare out at what used to be my front lawn. Over the past four weeks, the mighty Ottawa River has been elevated to the highest levels we have ever seen. It is about 8 feet higher than normal. So now, when I stare out at the flooded river, I feel sadness, anger, and a desire for the truth.
I'm not alone in the quest for answers. There is now a Facebook group (Flood 2019 Petition) that grew to nearly 5,000 (and counting) in one day. We want to know why this is happening (again) and what we can do to turn the tide.
During the first days of the flooding, all the neighborhood joined in, helping sandbag houses and cottages to try and save as many as possible. Even our little kids got in the action of sandbagging and helping out. Then, a state of emergency was called and the army arrived. What a great job the army did helping those who could still save their homes. Sadly, man could not keep up with the river overflow and waves and homes were destroyed.
Many of our Ottawa River friends are still living in their houses, which are wrapped by rows of sandbags. They tend to pumps all day and night. Some of them have to walk in hip waders for 30 minutes just to get to their houses. They can't leave their homes, because they need to make sure all the pumps are working to maintain the constant battle of water ingress. I couldn't imagine not being able to have a decent night sleep for 4 weeks in a row with no end in sight. These people want answers and rightfully so.
Then, there are the internet trolls who have no compassion and say things like, "they shouldn't have built there". The fact is that many of these homes were built many years ago and there has never been flooding like this on record. Back in 2017, we had our “100 year flood” and people better protected their cottages/homes. But only two years later, we’ve reached another record level and there is only so much a sandbag wall and pumps can withstand. These negative comments are not wanted or warranted.
So what is causing the Ottawa River to flood and still stay at record levels for so long? There are many theories out there, but no one will know unless a rigorous investigation is completed.
Is it caused from our early frost, coupled with record winter snow and a rapid melting process?
Was it a new flow control of the hydro system that is intended to allow more natural flow? Was it hydro mismanagement of the flow?
What about the hottest/most controversial topic of the year: climate change?
One of the most trending video is the Bill Nye the earth is on #&^$& fire video (Warning: language. Yes, that right, Bill Nye the science guy is pissed off about climate change.)
Can we as humans reduce our carbon emissions profile? Absolutely. Think back to acid rain, ozone depletion, etc.
Will it cost more money to do so? Yes. This is the delicate balancing act for families that are already struggling with the higher price of housing, food, and necessities. I hope that the government and private sector can come together and find a solution that is optimal for us all.
A primary reason I started Riverwood Acoustics was that I felt a civic duty to not only create an ecologically sustainable company but also to follow the build local model to limit emissions and create jobs. The intent is also to curb our disposable purchasing cycle and develop a product built for a lifetime. I hope that other people are inspired to do the same and remember it all starts with an idea and hard work.
So, I sit here reflecting while drinking my morning coffee wondering what is the actual cause of almost back-to-back 100 year + flooding. I want answers. The people along the river deserve to know what the true cause of this Ottawa river flooding crisis.