Hon. Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works):
Mr. Speaker, on Friday last the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) put the following question to me:
Has the minister explored the possibility of using the dams north of Ottawa to hold back a greater head of water to alleviate flood conditions?
The answer is that the officials of the Department of Public Works, aided by outside consultants, have given a great deal of thought to this problem. To date they have found no way of doing more to alleviate flood conditions. I have in hand a comprehensive report and study concerning this question, which I propose to read.
The question of controlling the flow of the Ottawa river has been studied by the Department of Public Works for many years, in consultation with the two provincial power commissions operating the river and with the other industries, including lumbering, who utilize the river for navigation. The study has not only been carried out by our engineers; we have added thereto engineers who are fully familiar with the situation. We retain on our staff a consulting engineer who knows the situation particularly well and whose guidance has been followed' for many years, as well as in the present situation. Any steps taken to guide and control the present floods were as directed by him.
On further going over the situation and analysing it thoroughly, it is agreed that no other course could have been followed that would have made flood conditions in the Ottawa area any less difficult. This opinion is shared by the officers of the power companies, of the two provincial power commissions and of the other services utilizing the river. In considering the question of the control of water at different dams, the first point always kept in mind is to alleviate flood conditions as far as possible, and the
second is the storage of water to be used later by the different parties. In detail there are on the river between Ottawa and the headwaters dams both for power and for storage, as follows:
Dozois: built and operated by the Quebec Hydro Electric Commission. This has a drainage area of 3,000 square miles. At the beginning of the present freshet season this reservoir was completely empty, but was closed by the Quebec authorities on March 31, and has remained closed ever since. The flow into this reservoir during the past two weeks has exceeded over 20,000 cubic feet per second.
2. Rapid No. 7: operated by the Quebec government. This is a power and storage development. To date, with a limited outflow required for power purposes only and the main dam closed, it has not been completely refilled.
3. Quinze reservoir: controlled by the
Department of Public Works. Drainage basin 8,900 square miles. At the start of the present freshet this reservoir was entirely empty, and on April 16 it was partly closed and only sufficient water permitted through this dam-approximately 7,500 cubic feet for power purposes.
4. Timiskaming reservoir: dam operated by the Department of Public Works. Drainage area, 17,000 square miles. At the start of the freshet this reservoir was entirely open. At the beginning of the freshet the run-off increased the water level with the discharge fully open and the lake rose seven feet. On April 17 in order to reduce the flood the dam was partially closed. This resulted in the reservoir rising over one-half a foot in one day, which would have filled the reservoir in a few days and resulted in a higher outflow than at present is being encountered. It was necessary to keep lake Timiskaming open, as by its own drainage area it went up one foot in one day, and with rises like this apparent it is certain that conditions on lake Timiskaming would be such that the sewage disposal and filtration plants of the towns of both Haileybury and New Liskeard, which always have to be watched, would have been flooded out.
From Timiskaming to Ottawa there are the following dams: 1. La Cave, under development; 2. Des Joachims, now fully developed; 3. Bryson, fully developed; 4.
Chenaux, fully developed; 5. Chats falls, fully developed; 6. Chaudiere, fully developed.
In the area covered by these six developments there is the run-off from approximately
17,000 square miles, which accumulates a discharge of approximately 145,000 cubic feet per second, none of which can be controlled at any of the dams, as there is absolutely no storage.
It is therefore evident that the whole situation so far as the vicinity of Ottawa is concerned was due to the inability to store any of the waters between Timiskaming and Ottawa, a distance of approximately 200 miles, and that therefore the major lakes, Timiskaming, Quinze and Dozois, had no effect on the flood that took place in the Ottawa river, but, on the contrary, assisted in retarding the flow.
All things considered, we know of no move that could have been made that would alleviate flood conditions in the area other than the ones that have been indicated and we are pleased to have had the cooperation of the Ontario and Quebec hydroelectric power commissions in order to give full effect to these measures.
Subtopic: OTTAWA AREA
Sub-subtopic: BACK WATER AT UPPER DAMS