By Chad Ingram
Published March 28, 2019
It’s that time of year, when the eyes of Mindenites turn to the Gull River.
Springtime is of course wonderful: the horrible, horrible chill of winter giving way to the promise of summer’s warmth.
However, in Minden, springtime also brings with it an annual apprehension, as the warming weather and precipitation pose the potential to put at least a portion of the village underwater.
For residents, there are some unofficial and unscientific signs that flooding might be on its way. Certainly, once “the chairs” affixed to one of the residential docks along Water Street become submerged to a certain point, anxiety can heighten.
My own personal, very unscientific barometer, lies at the point where the Minden boardwalk meets Invergordon Avenue. If the water from the wetland meets the water from the river in the middle of the road, then that typically means we’re in trouble.
Minden is located on a floodplain and the Gull River, which flows through its heart, is the lone channel for water from more than 25 reservoir and flow-through lakes that feed into Gull Lake, south of the village, as part of the feeder system for the Trent-Severn Waterway.
Twice in the last six years, extreme flooding has plunged the Township of Minden Hills into states of emergency, and certainly climate change brings with it the promise of increased flooding in the future.Those who were around for the disastrous 2013 flood likely still have some of those images engraved on their mind’s eye. That deluge, which covered swaths of the village for three weeks, forced a number of residents to be evacuated from their homes, and some homes to be subsequently demolished. It was a truly traumatizing event for a number of residents.
While it had water levels nearly as high, the 2017 flood was less disastrous, due largely to lessons learned from 2013. There was increased preparedness on the part of the township, in terms of sandbagging and other resources.
Since 2013, a communication network has been created that includes regular conference calls between Parks Canada, other organizations and local politicians once March arrives. There has been improved monitoring of water levels throughout the system, including the continued addition of digital gauges. The Upper Trent Watershed Management Partnership, a sort of de facto conservation authority that advocates on behalf of local stakeholders when it comes to water level management, was established. The ongoing process of LIDAR mapping, being undertaken by the County of Haliburton, should in the future provide the blueprint for flood mitigation activities, including the construction of infrastructure for that purpose.
For now, though, for another year, we wait and watch.