It’s true that as Audrey Hepburn said “water is life and that clean water means health”, but can there be “too much of a good thing”? In Port Hope, there has been an abundance of water both from continual rainfall and spring thaw. The water level in Lake Ontario has reached an all-time high with projections showing a new record for lake levels in June 2019. It is also being predicted that the lake level will remain above average for the remainder of the year.
With cleanup work taking place in the Port Hope Harbour and at adjacent waterfront sites, PHAI activities have been impacted. “We anticipated the flooding that may result from the spring thaw, but very quickly realized that this year the water levels were above average and had to respond accordingly”, says Chris Bobzener Project Manager, Port Hope Harbour & Waterfront Sites.
As part of the adaptive management practices being employed by CNL, contractors working on the project are prepared to handle challenges and have adjusted work plans accordingly.
A quick look at the former waterworks site (eastern section of the area called the West Beach) that is currently being remediated shows that the high water table is resulting in raised groundwater levels in open excavations. Strategies such as an increase in the amount of water being treated on site and at the Port Hope Waste Water Treatment Plant, reducing the depth of excavation at that site, and reinforcing site erosion control measures have made a significant difference.
“We have been working closely with our contractors to explore methods of adapting to the high water levels and have been able to complete restoration on some sections of the former waterworks site,” added Bobzener. “We are also identifying measures to meet the challenges that the high water levels will pose to the harbour cleanup.”
Weather has always been a factor in the completion of PHAI, and work is postponed if it cannot be performed safely and compliantly. For example, as a result of rain days, the electro-fishing scheduled for the harbour to remove fish was pushed back. This work has since been successfully completed in the Port Hope Harbour, as preparatory work for dredging and harbour wall restoration continues.
CNL remains confident that being flexible and using an adaptive management strategy will result in the successful completion of PHAI activities in the waterfront area. Bobzener reminds us that “there is no public health or safety risk related to PHAI activities being performed to work around high water levels.”