High water level concerns grow in Muskoka

Dear Member,

The MLA has listened carefully to member feedback and is in progress of assembling all the facts that have contributed to the flooding currently happening in Muskoka. As many of you may know, the water levels have not dropped materially yet, from peak levels. Our Water Quality & Environment committee believes the cold weather the past week has somewhat slowed the flow of water, and the expected warm spell later this week, has potential to speed the inflow of water to our lakes. Although we have seen a very small drop in levels, about 2” from the peak 3 days ago, these levels are not dropping rapidly. You can track the official government water levels yourself here. Damage to properties and shorelines continues daily, as the high winds have shifted ice. Ice flows are still around the lake in selected areas and being carried by wind and waves, connecting with docks and boathouses.

Given this urgent matter, the MLA has formed an emergency task force, dedicated to focus on the flooding: MLA Water Level Management Task Force. We kicked off this task force yesterday, with a long and detailed workshop with a dozen very smart, motivated people with diverse experience and credentials. The energy from this group and resourcefulness demonstrated already, will yield a large fact base of information and contacts at many levels of government, enabling us to take rapid action.  This task force is treating this matter as an urgent priority.

A primary objective of the task force will be pressing for an update of the Muskoka River Water Management Plan (MRWMP) which provides guidelines on water flows in the Muskoka watershed and is regulated by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).  This plan expired last month and has been given a 5 year extension by the MNRF.  We believe that the potential damages and impact of another 5 years of possible flood events is not acceptable.

Below is a summary of some of the key actions our task force has commenced on your behalf (including others not listed). While these are mostly in the information gathering stage, other actions additional are on the horizon.

We are obtaining additional information on the extension of the MRWMP,

  1. Making contact with the local representatives of MNRF in addition to our recent contacts,
  2. Conducting personal meetings with local municipalities and the District of Muskoka to determine what they are doing regarding the plan update and flood conditions,
  3. Making contact with the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry to pass along the concerns of cottagers regarding the ongoing issue of high water levels,
  4. Making contact with other cottage associations and groups to see what they have been doing,.
  5. We will be communicating our progress with members on a regular basis.

In the meantime, we have included a couple of attachments you may be interested in regarding insurance and electrical safety.

As well, the Township of Muskoka Lakes has announced that it is working with MNRF and are making arrangements to allow repairs of docks and boathouses damaged by water/ice on an expediency basis.  If you are in the township, please contact the building department for more information.

Thank you for your support and comments so far.  While we are not quite there yet, we will be looking for your input and help with information in future emails which we hope you'll participate in.

MLA Water Level Management Task Force