Saint-André-d’Argenteuil, March 15, 2018
Hydro-Québec puts its infrastructure to workManaging spring floodwaters to limit impacts on residents
Saint-André-d’Argenteuil, Thursday, March 15, 2018 – Hydro-Québec has been preparing for the upcoming spring flood for several months already, with the primary goal of limiting its impacts on residents.
Hydro-Québec started to prepare for the 2018 spate several weeks ago. Draining reservoirs, measuring the snow on the ground and regulating flow are just some of the steps taken.
“As we do every year, we started emptying our annual reservoirs in December so we can store meltwater,” explained Julie Sbeghen, Manager – Production Planning, at Hydro-Québec.
“Since then, we have been measuring the amount of snow on the ground in each area to determine as precisely as possible how much water will flow in the various drainage basins when the snowmelt starts,” she added. “We must act responsibly and make room in our reservoirs.”
In spring, crews of specialists monitor the situation several times a day to make the best possible decisions, with the goal of protecting residents.
“During the spring flood, we sometimes have to release water from our reservoirs,” explained engineer Pierre-Marc Rondeau. “We may have to do this if, for instance, a major low-pressure system arrives in Québec during the flood, bringing with it heavy precipitation. If that happens, we determine the best way to protect residents.”
“Then we wait until the spring flood is over before releasing any more water from our reservoirs,” added Mr. Rondeau.
Limited control of water
Some Hydro-Québec installations can limit the flow of some rivers. That’s the case of generating stations with reservoirs, such as Mercier generating station in the Outaouais or Rapide-Blanc generating station in Mauricie.
But many other generating stations can’t hold back the flow. Those run-of-river powerhouses are designed to generate electricity using the natural flow of the river. That’s the case of Carillon, on the Rivière des Outaouais (Ottawa River), and Beauharnois, southwest of Montréal.
“Those generating stations can’t hold back water the way a reservoir’s retaining structures do. So we can’t, for example, close Carillon’s gates and keep the high water from reaching Montreal. There’s no reservoir. The water would flow around our installations, or worse, right over them,” said Pierre-Marc Rondeau.
Hydro-Québec would also like to point out that it can only control some of the water that flows through the area. “In the Outaouais and Mauricie, for instance, only four drops of water out of ten go through our reservoirs. That means we have no control over 60% of the water that drains in those areas,” added Mr. Rondeau.
Flood management is quite a complex undertaking that involves the cooperation of many partners. “We want to assure you that we do everything in our power to limit its impacts on residents and we have specialists devoted to the task year round,” concluded Ms. Sbeghen.