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City expecting water to possibly exceed 2017 levels

Water levels aren’t expected to peak locally until the first week of June and they may even exceed levels seen as recently as two years ago.
Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk gave an update on Wednesday morning at City Hall as to what steps are being taken by the city and their Emergency Management Committee in regards to the high water levels being experienced.
Mayor Panciuk stressed drinking water is being protected.
Perry Dicola, the General Manager of Environmental Services says in 2017 they saw water come into sections of the old plant and they are ready to deal with water coming into the plant again while keeping the drinking water supply safe.
The water treatment plant underwent renovations between 1994-2000, and the berms inside the plant were increased to a 500 year level, a level they should never see, but in 2017, with the high water levels, water managed to get into the plants in the old sections.
He says the high water levels, along with winds can lead to anywhere between 10-15 cms of water inside the plant.
Mayor Panciuk says a pump has been sourced in case water does manage to get into the plant again, and they have materials available to add another foot to the berms inside the plant if need be.
He says water entering the plant is a concern and they are just taking extra steps to make sure everything is safe.
They will also move to shut down two of the collection wells at Jane Forrester Park if they are going to be submerged. Manholes have also been sealed.
The city recently closed Victoria Harbour to only local traffic and put a no wake zone in effect.
Councillor Chris Malette stressed the importance of the no wake zone enforcement.

Since the water levels began rising, the city has shut down a number of roads and put barricades in place. John Street South, as well as Church Street South and the entrance to Meyers Pier have been closed and elevated. The city has also placed 216 concrete blocks and 75 truck loads of gravel to elevate roads.

Five hundred twenty-five feet of water bags have been laid out, and sandbags are out in numerous locations to protect trails and roads from the rising water.

The George Street boat launch is open but isn’t accessible from Harbour Drive. Mayor Panciuk says if that boat launch does end up getting closed down, city staff are prepared to have people use the Herchimer Avenue boat launch.

Monitoring of conditions and communication is a daily occurrence the mayor says as they continue to react to what is expected to be a protracted event.

Belleville councillors and members of the Emergency Management Committee provide an update on the flooding situation in Belleville on May 22, 2019 at City Hall. (Photo: Amanda Smith/Quinte News)

As of last yesterday (Tuesday), Lake Ontario sits at 75.702 meters, which is 67.2 cms above average and Panciuk expects those to continue to rise and end up about seven centimetres higher than they were two years ago.

When asked how much this is costing the city, Mayor Panciuk didn’t have an answer. He did say the cost of what has been done so far is coming from the winter control budget and they are not concerned at this point.

In terms of long-term planning, Panciuk says they will turn their attention to next year once they get through this.

He did say that following the implementation of the 2014 protocols on Lake Ontario, they have seen two 100-year events and it is very clear to him that that is the issue they need to deal with, but now is not the time to be thinking about that.

Panciuk did note it is crazy to be thinking about 500-year flooding levels.

Residents concerned about flooding are asked to contact the city’s customer service line at 613-967-3275. City staff will then attend the property in question to evaluate their needs.


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