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HomeNewsKawartha Conservation to continue to provide flood programs despite funding cut

Kawartha Conservation to continue to provide flood programs despite funding cut

KAWARTHA LAKES-Kawartha Conservation officials say they will continue to provide flood and natural hazard programs despite recent cuts announced by the province’s PC government.

Mark Majchrowski, CAO for Kawartha Conservation, says that despite the 50 percent cut announced as part of the PCs first budget, the conservation authority will continue to provide the programs and services he feels the member municipalities and public need and rely on.

“We’re seeing more severe and more frequent weather events impacting the communities we live in,” explained Mr. Majchrowski. “Our staff provide services and programs that include ongoing monitoring of water flows, levels and weather conditions which allows us to understand and predict how the events will impact our communities; that information is then shared with our municipal partners and the community. We understand how critical that information is and we will continue to provide those programs and services.”

Mr. Majchrowski said the reduction in funding will present challenges in the coming months as well as in subsequent budgets.

“There’s no question the reduction in funding is going to have an impact on our organization,” said Mr. Majchrowski. “We’re going to have to look at how we can address this type of reduction and continue to provide the very valuable programming that our customers, communities and partners have told us are important to them.”
Emma Collyer, Director, Integrated Watershed Management said the range of services and forecasting isn’t limited to typical flood seasons, but a year-round approach to monitoring conditions and water levels.

“Kawartha Conservation staff monitors weather information and watershed conditions, including precipitation amounts, river flows, and the snow pack, to predict when floods will occur and how high the water may rise,” explained Ms. Collyer. “We do this by constantly monitoring weather situations in multiple areas and municipalities with, at times, much different weather conditions.

“The weather and conditions in Fenelon Falls, Bobcaygeon or Trent Lakes can be completely different than situations in Port Perry or Blackstock or Pontypool,” Ms. Collyer continued. “When flooding is possible, or about to occur, we issue flood messages to municipal emergency management officials, the media, and post messages on our website as well as those who subscribe to receive notices.”

Kawartha Conservation relies on a frontline team of staff, including a Watershed Resources Technician, Hydrologist, Water Quality Specialist, Floodplain GIS/Mapping Technician, Aquatic Biologist, Planning and Regulation Technician and a Coordinator of Environmental Programs/GIS Specialist to monitor weather and water conditions throughout the watershed.

“We have an incredibly dedicated and talented group of staff who are passionate about protecting the people and property in our watershed community,” said Ms. Collyer. “Our Integrated Watershed Management staff in combination with our Planning and Permitting and Stewardship staff provide much-needed and increasingly important services across the Kawartha Conservation watershed.”

Kawartha Conservation receives just over $47,000 from the province for flood programming. That is now reduced to about $23,500.

To date in 2019, eight municipalities in Ontario alone have declared states of emergency due to flooding including three immediately north and west of the Kawartha Conservation watershed in Minden Hills, Bracebridge and Huntsville.

“We are seeing more and more severe weather events impacting not only our watershed, but areas across the province and across the world,” said Ms. Collyer. “Providing critical flood and natural hazard services to our community is more important now than it has ever been and every dollar counts.”

Mr. Majchrowski acknowledged the reduction in funding will be a challenge for the organization, but the priority and focus will continue to be on providing the watershed community with the services they need.

“Our priority is to make sure that we are providing the critical services and programs that our watershed residents, partners and municipalities need,” said Mr. Majchrowski.

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