As winter continues, local authorities advise of rising water levels within the Grand River Watershed.

On Jan. 3 2017, the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) issued a warning to Brantford residents that warmer temperatures and rain forecast for the first week of January will raise water levels around the local watershed. The forecast called for temperatures that will rise to 4 degrees and will remain high for the remainder of the week. As a result, many of the snow banks near the river will melt, raising the water levels and creating slippery conditions.

Current temperatures fail to reflect the actual time of year. Many scientists and meteorologists attribute this to global warming. As the earth continues to warm up, many consequences are revealed, including rising water levels.

Global warming has increased sea levels across the world, as seen in the Gulf of Mexico and American East coast where flooding has increased. Local authorities claim that there are extensive amounts of rain coming into the Grand River watershed. The excessive amounts of rain will continue to fall throughout the week and into the weekend due to the warmer temperatures. GRCA warns Brantford residents to stay clear of the watershed areas and to be very cautious. The fire and police departments do not anticipate any flooding to occur, but residents are still encouraged to keep safety in mind when around bodies of water.

Tom Rolfe, an emergency coordinator who works closely with the police department, the city, and GRCA has ensured residents that “Brantford has a system that monitors and warns against floods and raising water levels. It’s one of the best in the area”. Along with the monitoring system, there are physical barriers (dikes) put in place to prevent flooding from large bodies of water. Brantford’s dikes, despite being put in place after series of floods in the 1970s,  are still working effectively, states Rolfe. All systems in place are constantly monitored on a monthly basis by local authorities including the fire department, city hall and GRCA.

Local authorities are continuously monitoring and looking out for any signs of flooding or excessive water rising said GRCA. All local authorities gather together around the spring and fall seasons to discuss and keep up with current situations, and to ensure that proper protocols are meet and residents will be safe in the event of a flood. On Jan. 19 members will meet to discuss plans for upcoming months.

“The community is constantly working together to discuss the possible problems associated with rising water and floods.” stated Rolfe. The goal is making sure residents are safe and prepared. Procedures are made and decided upon by taking into account the forecast and creating detailed procedures. If a flood were to occur in Brantford, a warning would be issued to the affected areas immediately informing and warning residents of the risk to come. Emergency services such as information nights, shelters, first aid and Red Cross will be readily available to all residents.

The Fire Department’s Emergency Centre advises that “all residents in Brantford follow the city on their various social media outlets to keep informed such as Facebook and twitter. These social media platforms will be used by the city in case of emergency to broadcast, notify and inform residents,” stated Rolfe.

As the winter months continue, the GRCA and other local authorities warn of the possible mild flooding that frequently occurs on some roads from time to time. As the temperatures drop in preparation for the spring, spring flooding in Brantford does occur and Brantford emergency services make it a priority to make sure that snow left over from the winter season melts properly and can safely flow down the rivers and streams without causing extensive flooding.

As the temperature continues to change, local authorities want to remind residents to stay safe. Exercising extreme caution around bodies of water is extremely important. GRCA specifically encourages residents to“keep their children and pets away from all watercourses and off frozen water bodies, which may be weakened as a result of the warming temperature and slipperiness.”

Pictures by Mike Rykov / The Sputnik, Graphics by Sai Gnanaharan / The Sputnik