City flood prep well underway

OTTAWA – The City of Ottawa is preparing two different fronts for two different battles this spring.

While much of the city’s resources are focused on battling the local COVID-19 pandemic Ottawa city staff have saved some resources to focus on the 2020 spring freshet.

“As we deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city has set up a separate team to deal with the potential for spring flooding,” city staff released in a statement today (April 6).

Preparations are well underway, and here’s what we’re doing so far.

Monitoring the rivers

We have been meeting with our partners, including the local conservation authorities, since early March and continue to talk daily. Water levels on the Rideau and Ottawa rivers are normal or close to normal, and the current risk of significant flooding is considered low.

Monitoring the weather

While the current outlook is positive, heavy rain and melting snow from north of Ottawa could still have an impact. Temperatures above zero during the day, and slightly below at night, are ideal for a gentle spring melt with no significant flooding. Some rainfall is to be expected but shouldn’t change the flooding outlook as long as we don’t set any new records.

Deploying sandbags

We have approximately 200,000 sandbags filled and ready to go, leftover from 2019. Thanks to last year’s volunteers, we’re ready to help residents if waters start rising. Staff are prepared to mobilize with these bags, if necessary, to protect flood-prone areas.

The City also has sand and bags available at some of our Public Works yards. We have 21,000 tons of reclaimed sand from 2019 along with 387,000 unfilled bags, ready for use.

Physical distancing

During the COVID-19 pandemic, if there is flooding, residents will be asked to practice physical distancing as outlined by Ottawa Public Health. Any work being done will need to be limited to five people or fewer, as mandated by the Province of Ontario. We know many of you have been through this before and we encourage you to use your experience to protect the areas where the water affects you and your neighbours. Work together where possible, given COVID-19 restrictions.

Here’s what you can do

You can take steps now to safeguard your homes.

For information about flood preparations happening at the City, and for tips on what you can do at home, visit, follow the City through social media channels and join the flood group we’ve created on Facebook. For information on water levels in the region, consult your local conservation authority: