Dear BYC Members,
I‘m sending this message to update you on the 2020 Spring water levels and what we’re doing to navigate the Covid-19 restrictions.
We were fortunate this Spring to have more usual water levels that we experienced in 2017 and 2019. 
With the work that was done last year at the Cassels Street end, the seawalls at the front of the Club are all at minimum levels of approximately 61 meters. To put this in perspective, in 2019 the water rose to within 30 cm of this level which was a never before seen high water level for the Club.
The walls in the harbour are at approximately 59.1 meters and this is the level which we use to guide our decision to install the flood gate. This year, we installed the gate on April 2 which is relatively early and reflects the early Spring we experienced.
Of course, water levels high enough to cause flooding in the harbour (>59.1 meters) are not an unusual springtime event. The Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board posted a YouTube video of a presentation they made this spring entitled ‘Reservoir Management & the Ottawa River April 02 2020’. The presentation provides excellent information that helps to understand the situation we face on the Ottawa River each spring. You can find the video at this link and the slide deck in pdf format can also be found on the Planning Board website
One of the slides illustrates how often we have to deal with Spring levels in excess of 59 meters on Lac Deschenes.
As you can see from this chart, it is a rare spring when our flood gate is not needed to prevent flooding in the harbour. Since the gate was ready for use in the spring of 1981, there have only been 4 years out of 39 where the water level was under or at 59 meters and the gate was not required.
Here’s what the graph for this spring looks like as of April 29 am:
Even though the water level is now below 59 meters, the gate remains in place as a second peak is forecast which will see the water rise again this week and next but is not expect to exceed the previous peak. To put things in perspective, the gate was not removed last year until June 14 which was followed but a small second peak 7 days later – we are way ahead of the game this year. Our first peak this spring was reached on April 10th and the pier remained just above water. At this level, our walls did an excellent job of holding back the waves and protecting the Club. As a result, sandbags were not required.
Here’s a photo taken on April 10:
Here’s a photo taken April 28:
Looks like we will be OK from a flooding perspective this year – thank goodness for small mercies!
The Covid-19 pandemic and consequent restrictions are resulting in a lot of frustration and uncertainty for all of us and I thank you for your patience, understanding and support as we navigate this situation. Our Club is not unique and all other Clubs and marina operations are currently facing the same uncertainties.
I want to assure you that the Club Manager, the Board and the Finance Committee are working hard to ensure that we do what is best for the Club members and that we are ready to conduct operations when restrictions are eased. We have implemented harbour patrols to increase security and to inspect the grounds, sheds and boats. If you are concerned about your boat, please contact the office who will arrange for staff to examine it on your behalf. Please remember that the Club is closed and no one except authorized personnel are permitted on the grounds – this is provincial law.
The Commodore is participating in regular consultations with Sail Ontario which is helping all Clubs understand how the regulations impact their operations and is representing the needs and concerns of the Clubs to government officials. The Commodore is also in communication with other Club Commodores so that ideas and information are shared and we can help each other.
At this point, the Premier has presented a framework but no timetable for re-opening Ontario so it very hard for us to know what options we will have. It is unlikely that we would be able to resume operations without restrictions so we are examining modes of operation which would maximize access for members while observing restrictions such as physical distancing for both members and staff. Given that launch activities will be delayed, we are looking at options including extra staff and shifts to ensure we can catch up as much as possible.
As more information is available, we’ll keep you informed. In the meantime, stay safe.
Al Malo
Vice Commodore/Harbourmaster
Britannia Yacht Club
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