Spring Safety Message: Be Careful Around Waterways

Hazardous Conditions On and Around
Bodies of Water

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) is reminding residents of the dangers that exist near bodies of water around this time of year, and urging people to keep family and pets away from the edges of all waterways.

Spring is quickly approaching, and with warmer temperatures people look forward to getting outdoors. However, warmer temperatures also usually bring rain, melting snow, and shifting ice, which can contribute to higher, faster flowing water in watercourses.

Although TRCA’s watersheds have received average amounts of snow and above seasonal temperatures so far this winter, risks still exist with melting snow and ice around watercourses. Several thaw periods have also helped to decrease the winter snowpack amount. Melting snow due to warming temperatures, combined with spring rainfall and frozen ground conditions throughout the jurisdiction, could contribute to higher and faster flowing water in local watercourses.

The formation of significant ice cover in watercourses in TRCA’s jurisdiction has been very limited this winter season and there are currently no active ice jams.

Slippery and unstable streambanks and extremely cold water temperatures can also lead to dangerous conditions close to any body of water. Ice cover remaining on watercourses or lakeshore areas will weaken and become unstable with warmer temperatures.

Be safe this spring and remember the following tips:

  • Keep family and pets away from the edges of all bodies of water.
  • Avoid all recreational activities in or around water, especially near ice jams or ice-covered watercourses.
  • Do not attempt to drive or walk through flooded roads or fast-moving water.
  • If you live close to the water, move objects such as chairs or benches away from the water’s edge to avoid losing them during potential spring high water.

The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board (ILOSRB) is forecasting high water levels on Lake Ontario for this spring and summer. However, there is uncertainty whether levels will reach critical thresholds as seen in 2017 and 2019.

The range of forecast levels depends on various factors including:

  • The inflows from Lake Erie, which are currently well above normal levels
  • The spring rainfall and runoff amounts into Lake Ontario, which are yet to occur
  • The spring peak flow of the Ottawa River into the St. Lawrence River, which will influence the outflow of Lake Ontario at the Moses-Saunders Dam in Cornwall

For more information about Lake Ontario water levels and forecast, please visit the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board.

For information about current flood mitigation efforts on the Toronto Islands, please view the City of Toronto’s media release from February 25, 2020.

For more information about spring safety around waterways, please contact your local conservation authority:

Toronto & Region Conservation Authority (416) 661-6514
Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (905) 895-1281
Conservation Halton (905) 336-1158
Credit Valley Conservation (905) 670-1615
Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (905) 579-0411
Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (905) 885-8173
Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (705) 424-1479
Kawartha Conservation (705) 328-2271