2023 Spring Freshet Planning and Flood Preparedness

2023 Spring Freshet Taskforce, Planning and Flood Preparedness

The City of Ottawa has established a Spring Freshet Taskforce each year since the 2017 freshet. The goal of the taskforce is to prepare for, monitor and respond to the needs of residents across the city.
Much of the planning and operational response focuses on communities and City assets known to be impacted by seasonal flooding along the various rivers within the city, but especially along the Rideau River and Ottawa River.
Each year, sandbag filling stations are created for the benefit of residents who experience flooding on their properties. These stations are installed in locations that are convenient to affected communities.
Updates on sandbag stations will be provided on both the Spring Maintenance and Flood Control and Spring Flooding 2023 pages of Ottawa.ca.

The Public Works Spring Freshet Taskforce is actively working with external partners to monitor water levels, which are currently normal or close to normal along the Ottawa River basin.
Accordingly, there is no river flooding in the forecast right now, although this could change as we approach the pending spring freshet period.

Communication is a priority and regular updates will be provided to Council and on Ottawa.ca. Follow the City’s social media channels for updates, and visit the Spring Flooding 2023 page for timely information. 


Update for March 17, 2023

Currently, the City's operations are focused primarily on the Rideau River - any flooding that could happen will happen on the Rideau River first due to its smaller size - and then will shift to the Ottawa River.


Rideau River

On March 9, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority issued a Flood Outlook statement, one level higher than normal conditions but not yet at a flood watch or warning status. A Flood Outlook statement is simply for awareness that while water content in the snow is near average for the higher and middle sections of the watershed, they are above average for the lower part of the watershed which is where we are. Based on this snow water content and above average water levels at some upper watershed lakes, there is potential for above average flooding across the Rideau watershed, particularly in low-lying areas which have flooded in the past. The short-term forecast is showing limited precipitation and temperatures that would facilitate a slow melt, both factors that would limit the risk of flooding. The Flood Outlook statement will remain in effect until the next update coming on March 24.

Ottawa River

The Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board has not yet announced the beginning of the Freshet. A water level update was issued on March 14 indicating water levels and flows in most locations along the Ottawa River are close to seasonal values and are expected to decline over the coming week.

Minor Water Courses 

The minor water courses in the City that contribute to the Rideau, Ottawa, or South Nation rivers are at normal levels.

The City's Response

We are actively working with our partners across the city, Conservations Authorities, Ottawa River Planning Board and Environment Canada. We have made sand and sandbags available at the Hurdman Yard (29 Hurdman Road) for those in low lying areas that may be prone to seasonal flooding. We will adjust our response as conditions warrants.

It has been a unique year along the Rideau River. Normally, proactive blasting occurs across our entire stretch of the river over a five-day period. This year, the ice was too thin, so blasting operations took place in very selective areas, supported by Ottawa Fire, and performed by smaller crews. That work is now complete and remaining ice breaking is being done by the amphibious excavator.

Rideau River Flood Control (RRFC) work will continue this weekend and into next week. On March 11 the amphibious excavator was deployed behind the pier at Stanley Park and began breaking away ice that remains on the Rideau River. It will continue working its way up the river corridor before it reaches the end of its course, at Billings Bridge. Where operationally possible, work will be done during the day but may occur overnight if there is an imminent risk for flooding.


The City of Ottawa’s Spring Flood 2023 Facebook group has opened for the season. It will provide information to those affected by spring flooding or anyone who wishes to keep up to date with any developments. Relevant information will be provided as it becomes available. This information can be shared with neighbours, friends and/or family.

Residents can also visit ottawa.ca/springflooding to get valuable information such as current conditions, any road, pathway or park closures, planning and prevention tips, and sandbag depot locations.

Latest posts

Share this page

Address: 110 Laurier Ave W, Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1