Welcome To The Website of the
Upper French River Cottagers Association

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The Upper French River lies between Lake Nipissing and the Chaudiere Dams at Dokis First Nation. The French River then continues downstream to Georgian Bay. An historic First Nation and fur trade canoe route, the French River is now a Provincial Park, the home to citizens of Dokis First Nation, and the summer residence of hundreds of cottagers.

Contact the UFRCA at info@ufrca.com 

CURRENT NEWS


MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL TIME
Posted June 17, 2019

It's time to renew your UFRCA membership. The current membership year ends June 30. See all the information at left in "Membership Form". A related e-mail will be distributed to the membership soon. New members are always welcome.


WARNINGS REMAINS IN EFFECT:
LAKE NIPISSING VULNERABLE

Exercise extreme caution while boating. Do not  create wakes that can damage sensitive shorelines and/or structures like docks and boathouses. Keep an eye out for floating debris like logs, docks, trees, even propane tanks.


Lake Nipissing Benchmarks
Updated June 17, 2019. This CHART shows the benchmark levels of Lake Nipissing related to the current level.

The PSPC GRAPH shows the status of flows into and out of Lake Nipissing and the Upper French, as well as information for the Lower French. The solid red line shows the average level of Lake Nipissing - refer to the left vertical axis in metres above sea level. The pale blue dashed line (at the bottom of the graph) shows the outflow at the Chaudiere Dams - refer to the right vertical axis in cubic metres per second. Updated Monday June 17, 2019. 

Note: As current reports are posted, earlier reports are deleted. For previous data, refer to the PSPC graph above.

IMPORTANT:
The strategy by consensus over the past few weeks was to incrementally increase flows down the French River beyond the new flood limits in order to mitigate the risk of reaching the “all dams open” level on Lake Nipissing.  If not for this strategy, Lake Nipissing would have already exceeded the “all dams open” level, resulting in levels even higher than is currently observed this year on the French   River. Lake Nipissing levels remain vulnerable to significant precipitation events and strong winds.  

PSPC Report Issued June 17, 2019, 8:52 a.m. 
 
The average level on Lake Nipissing has dropped to 196.28 m, a decrease of 3 cm since Friday morning. In the North Bay area, local levels read at 196.31 m. At the French River outlet on the Lake, the gauge read 196.26 m. The level on the lake has declined 1 cm/day over the last 5 days.
 
Minor precipitation fell Saturday and nothing on Sunday and there is no rain in this week’s forecast. No significantly strong wind speeds are in the next five-day forecast. Wind speed and direction continue to be major factor  in local water levels. Lake Nipissing levels remain vulnerable to significant precipitation events and strong winds.  Due to widespread rainfall over the watershed before the weekend, the three-day average inflow remained high keeping Lake levels relatively stable with only a slight drop.  As there is very little rain over the coming days, inflows are expected to continue to drop through the week. Lake levels may continue to drop 1-2 cm per day on average over the next several days, but will ultimately depend on rate of evaporation and actual amount of rain over the coming days. Downstream on the French River, flows are relatively stable and should begin to drop with little rain in the forecast. You will find today’s updated graph attached to this email.
Here is the supplementary data as of today at 6:00 AM:   
Sturgeon River:                     229 m3/s         
Dam outflow:                        425 m3/s       
Wolseley Bay:                       452 m3/s (188.09 m)
Dry Pine Bay:                        484 m3/s (182.64 m) 179.83
Hartley Bay:                          179.69 m
 Last 3 Day avg Inflow:          342 m3/s
Daily Inflow (last 24hrs):       362 m3/s

If you think that your property may be at risk of flooding, please contact your municipality. For all other questions pertaining to watershed conditions please contact your local conservation authority or the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Ontario.
MNRF Sudbury District: 705-564-7877
MNRF North Bay District: 705-475-5529
We will continue to send daily updates until we indicate otherwise.
Thank you,
Kyle Jansson, P.Eng., PMP


To Upper French River Cottagers from The Board
Posted June 4, 2019

All in all, good news.  Here’s a summary of what it means going forward. The water level at 9:30 am this morning (June 4) is 196.39 m (at the outlet at the Chaudiere dams). We have had an average decline of 2 cm per day for the past five days.  Public Services and Procurement Canada expects this rate of decline to continue for the next week – so an additional 14 cm (6 inches) by next Tuesday is quite possible.  The rate of decline could increase if we get dry, hot weather or slow down if we get heavy rainfall. To get to the point where the lake is no longer considered to be “in flood” (196.22), the lake has to drop 17 cm or about 6.7 inches from where it is today (so, maybe by mid-next week…) To get to the top of the summer operating range (195.95 m), the lake has to drop about 44 cm or about 17 inches, from where it is today. To get to the middle of the summer operating range (195.85 m), the lake has to drop 54 cm or about 21 inches from today. To get to the bottom of the operating range (195.75 m) where it was pretty much all last summer) it has to drop 64 cm or about 25 inches from today’s level. Here’s a website link that is updated continually so you can track how it's going: 
 
Flooding on French River at Hwy. 69 - Flood Warning Extended
Posted May 29, 2019

North Bay Nugget May 29 From Fire to Floods
North Bay Nugget May 30 Flood Warning Extended
Lunge Lodge images on Facebook

Riverview images on Facebook
Sandy Haven images on Facebook

 

Lake Level Approaching 50-year Flood Level

Posted May 27, 2019

 

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As Lake Nipissing approaches the 50-year flood level of 196.59 metres above sea level, major problems are also being faced below the Chaudiere Dams in French River Municipality. According to CBC news, a state of emergency has been declared in that area, as the Chaudiere Dams may be opened further. Nipissing First Nation is also dealing with flooded areas in the Jocko Point area on the north shore of the lake. This area is especially prone to damage from high onshore winds. Currently, the discharge from Lake Nipissing is 553 cubic metres per second.

Spring Newsletter
Posted May 23, 2019

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The UFRCA spring newsletter was distributed to the membership on May 22 and is available here.

West Nipissing Closes Municipal Boat Launches
Posted May 15, 2019

West Nipissing has closed all municipal boat launches due to high water levels on the Sturgeon River and Lake Nipissing. See the North Bay Nugget article here. Anyone using these waterways should use exteme caution not to create a wake that can further damage the shoreline or structures at the shore. OPP have been instructing private boat launch operators, such as marinas, to close their boat launch areas (which are difficult to access anyway). We will post any official news regarding closure of waterways such as the Sturgeon River and the Upper French. A complete ban on all boating has been imposed on a 400 km stretch of the Ottawa River from the Otto Holden dam at Mattawa to Ottawa.

North Bay Nugget May 13, 2019 - Water Rising at Jocko Point
Posted May 13, 2019


Lake Nipissing Declared Ice Free May 8
Posted May 9, 2019

May 9, 2019 North Bay Nugget: Lake Nipissing Ice Free



State of Emergency Declared
Posted May 9, 2019

May 9, 2019 North Bay Nugget: West Nipissing Declares State of Emergency



WARNING:  Lake Levels About to Spike up to 20 cm
Posted May 9, 2019

 

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For the past few days, Lake Nipissing water levels have been rising more slowly and yesterday they didn’t rise at all. But that’s about to change quickly and not in a good way. Over the next two days, the area will be hit with 30 to 50 mm of rain (that’s 1.2 to 2 inches), which will cause Lake levels to spike quickly by up to 20 centimetres, or just under 8 inches.  That would put docks such as these at Sand Bay completely under water.

 

Even though it might be “only” 30 to 50 mm of rain, the impact on the Lake is much larger because that amount of rain will be falling over the entire watershed, a huge area extending from the NE corner of Algonquin Park to north of Lake Temagami.  Almost all of the rainfall will find its way into Lake Nipissing and the Upper French River, and very quickly, because the ground is already fully saturated and can’t absorb any more water.

 

As of Wednesday May 8, the Lake level was 196.33 m.  That’s 63.5 cm or 25 inches above where it was on April 24, which was 70 cm or 27.5 inches above where it was the week before that. 

 

An additional 20 cm (8 inches) would take the Lake to 196.53 m – just 3 cm or 1.2 inches below the 50-year flood level of 196.59 m.  

 

And that’s not going to be the end of it – yesterday’s North Bay Nugget reported that according to the North Bay Mattawa Conservation Authority, the peak Lake level is likely still two weeks away. 

 

How high and how fast depend, as always, on the weather.  In the meantime, communities around the Lake are taking extraordinary emergency measures, including North Bay, which is trying to minimize the damage that will be caused when floodwaters reach the wastewater plant build near the lakeshore in the 60’s.  

 
See also:

North Bay Nugget May 9: West Nipissing residents warned to prepare for potential evacuations
North Bay Nugget May 9: North Bay takes waste water precautions

 

PSPC Report for May 6, 2019 - Lake Level Expected to Rise
Posted May 6, 2019

Lake Nipissing - CAUTION: HIGH AND RISING LAKE LEVELS
As of May 6th, 2019, the water level of Lake Nipissing (and the Upper French) was 196.32 metres. The region is expected to receive 1-5 mm of rain today. Another weather system is forecasted for Thursday and Friday, with rain amounts between 10-25 mm of rain. Temperatures are forecasted to remain slightly below average for the week. The Lake level is expected to continue to rise.

The North Bay Nugget reports that ice remains on the lake.

When will the ice be out?
Posted May 3, 2019

The annual guessing game has begun. Todd Thomas from Sandy Haven (located on the south side of Sandy Island) is predicting Lake Nipissing will be "crossable" on Monday according to today's North Bay Nugget article. The UFRCA is predicting the lake will be officially declared "ice-free" on or about May 8.


Level Rising
Posted May 2, 2019

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 The level of Lake Nipissing has reached 196.22 metres above sea level. See the PSPC Report May 2. Thanks to Val for the photos (May 3, 2019). The photo at left shows the water at dock level on the far side of the narrow channel at Riverview Cottages. Click photos to enlarge.
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Lake Continuing to Rise –
Damaging Flooding Still Quite Possible
Posted May 2, 5:23 p.m.

 
The risk of flooding that could cause serious damage is still very real on Lake Nipissing. 
 
Back on April 24th, the Lake reached 195.72 m.  That took us pretty close to the bottom of the summer operating range.  For those of you with good memories, that’s about where the Lake was on last year’s August long weekend. 
 
Today it reached 196.22 m – which is about 50 cm or 20 inches above that. This is the benchmark referred to as "flood level``, as above this, shoreline damage starts to become a greater possibility – although PSPC advises that we have exceeded this level at times in the past without significant damage. 
 
Just to put it in perspective:  The water is up to but not over the top of the dock that runs in front of the store at Riverview.  The long dock with the gazebo across the bay from there is underwater by a few inches in places.
 
PSPC is comfortable saying that it should continue to rise at this rate (3-4 cm per day) for at least the next week.  That should take us to about 196.46 m.  That’s another 24.5 cm or about 9.5 inches above today’s level – so, again, picture that at the Riverview store.
 
And that level – 196.46 – is just 14 cm/6 inches below the “50-year” flood level of 196.59.  That’s the level where serious shoreline damage becomes much more certain.
 
PSPC had expected to reach 196.22 m sometime next week – so this is definitely a bit early. 
 
The good news is that inflows to the Lake are slowing – 3 to 4 cm per day (around 1.5 inches), instead of 10 or 11 cm (about 4 inches) per day.
 
The bad news is that it’s still rising. 
 
All of these predictions, of course, still depend on the weather, including melting ice and snow, and especially on rainfall.  The rainfall predictions for next week are relatively modest but as we all know, the predictions aren’t quite what they used to be.
 
And finally, the River is apparently open and navigable (with chunks of ice flowing downriver) up to Burnt Island – both the main and back channels.  The Lake should be clear in the next 4-5 days. Maybe.
 
We’ll keep watching this closely – check for regular updates and look for future emails.

 
Update on Lake Nipissing and Upper French Water Level
Posted May 1, 2019
The inflow to Lake Nipissing appears to be lessening slightly. Having reached a peak of about 196.17 metres above sea level (masl), the lake level has dropped to 196.15 masl. The prediction for reaching 196.22 masl and higher is still in place.
For the full report from PSPC for April 30, click here.
For the detailed chart for Lake Nipissing up to April 30, click here.
Chart details: The vertical axis on the left side, in dark red, shows the Lake Nipissing level in metres above sea level. The solid red line on the chart is the lake level to April 30. The summer range is shown by the two parallel black lines.
The Environment Canada Water Office web site is continuously updated.



Latest on High Water Levels

Posted April 29, 2019

 

Here’s the latest on high water levels on Lake Nipissing and the Upper French River.

 

The lake level continues to rise. As of this morning at 6:00 a.m., the lake had reached 196.10 metres above sea level, – compared to 195.72 masl on April 24 – which is an increase of 40 cm or over 15 inches.

 

PSPC reported this morning that daily inflows to the lake are slowing and are likely to continue to do so throughout the week; however, those inflows are still quite high (approximately 1,000 m3/s each day.  This is mainly because of colder temperatures, which are slowing down the snow melting process in parts of the watershed, and less rainfall. 

 

Here’s what to expect in the next few days. The lake should continue to rise, although hopefully a bit more slowly than in the past week or so. We should expect to see it hit the benchmark flood level of 196.22 m later this week – another 12 cm or 4.7” above this morning’s level. (Last week, PSPC was expecting it to hit this level around the second week of May – so this would be a bit earlier than previously anticipated.)

 

PSCP says it may rise above 196.22 m but that remains to be seen.  We will keep you posted.


ALERT:  High Water and Risk of Flood on the Way
Posted April 25, 2019

Updated April 26, 2019
This article from baytoday.ca has photos of Lake Nipissing ice becoming very gray and thinning. Flood warnings have now been issued for Lake Nipissing and the Upper French River.
Updated April 28, 2019 at 12:35 p.m.
The lake level is presently 196.06 metres above sea level, 11 cm (over 4") above the summer operating range, and rising steadily. The Environment Canada Water Office web site is continuously updated.

 
The spring thaw is underway with a vengeance and Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC – formerly PWGSC – which manages lake/river water levels in partnership with MNRF and OPG) has issued a warning that we could see very high-water levels on Lake Nipissing and the Upper French River this spring.
 
As of yesterday (April 24), the Lake had reached 195.72 metres above sea level (masl) – an increase of 70 cm so far this week alone.  That brings us very close to the bottom of the summer seasonal operating range (195.75 to 195.95 masl).
 
And the most recent prediction is that the Lake will very likely exceed 196.22 m by the second week of May. 
 
To give you an idea of what that means: last year, around the time of the May long weekend, the Lake hit last year’s high-water mark at 195.92 m, which was very close to the top of the summer operating range. 
 
The prediction of 196.22 m is about a foot above that.
 
That’s not good news, but it’s also not likely to be this year’s high-water mark.
 
How much higher it will go is impossible to say right now.  We had quite a bit more snow than usual this year.  We’ve also had a fair bit of rain, which means that nothing is absorbed and everything becomes runoff very quickly.
 
But basically, none of this is “normal” or fits with long-term models.
 
According to PSPC, it’s not uncommon at the peak of the spring thaw to get two or three days in a row where inflows to the Lake are over 1,000 cubic metres per second (
m3/s) each day.  So far this year, we have had 7 days in a row with inflows of 1,100 m3/s each. 
 
So what’s the worst it could be?  If it starts going above 196.59 m (which would be over 2 feet above where it was last May 23), there is a much greater risk of severe shoreline damage, including damage to docks. 
 
By way of background, 196.59 m is the “50-year” flood level.  A “100-year” flood level would be 197.25 m, which would be more than 2 feet above that.
 
The good news is we have a ways to go before that happens.  Through PSPC, UFRCA will be monitoring the situation closely and will send out update emails and post new information on the website as it becomes available.
 
In the meantime, if you already have barrels on your dock you have probably done all that can be done for now. If you don’t, you may wish to consider talking with whomever you retain to do your maintenance to see what can be done once the Lake or River are navigable.  Typically, the River is ice free some time before the Lake is, and people who watch this closely (including that seer of seers and prognosticator-of-prognosticators, our very own Dave Minden) suggest that the Lake might be ice free sometime near the end of the first week of May.

 

High Water Levels
Posted April 24, 2019

Widespread rain coupled with rapid snow melt is causing high water levels throughout Ontario. Lake Nipissing remains ice-covered and high lake levels may cause shoreline disturbance. Lake Nipissing, as of today, has risen to 195.75 metres above sea level, which is at the summer operating range.

April 23 report regarding Lake Nipissing:

The following is the water level forecast for Lake Nipissing and the French River as of Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019, as provided by Public Services and Procurement Canada. The precipitation at the French River Dams station for the month of April was at 99.7% of the total monthly historical average. As of April 23rd, 2019, the water level of Lake Nipissing was 195.62 metres. Rain is in the forecast today through tonight amounting to an average of 10-15 mm, with even more in the northern section of the watershed potentially amounting to up to 50 mm, by the end of Wednesday. The rest of the week shows another system by the end of the week with rain forecasted around 5mm. The rain combined with warmer temperatures continues to melt the snow resulting in very high inflows and rapid rising in the Lake level.

Spring Notes to UFRCA Members
Posted April 21, 2019
We know you may be anxious to send in your membership renewal for 2019-20, but please hold on for a few weeks. The new 2019-20 Membership Form will be posted and distributed in May. Please note that the Interac e-transfer and credit card/PayPal payment systems are temporarily not in service. Until notified, please do not register on-line or attempt to pay your membership fee using those services. The spring newsletter is slated for May 15. Newsletters are distributed directly by e-mail to members, and new members are always welcome.
 
New Web Site Look
Posted April 21, 2019
You are seeing a new look on the web site. The Members Menu is being discontinued and members no longer need to “log in” with a user name and password. All pages previously in the Members Menu have been either discontinued or revised to be in public view and moved to the Main Menu.



Spring Freshet Underway
Posted April 15, 2019

The spring freshet is underway, and in the last few weeks, Lake Nipissing – although still ice covered – has risen to about 1 metre below the summer range. Creeks are running, and small ponds are starting to open up. After record breaking snow levels during the winter, there is still much snow in the bush. Rain, with temperatures well above zero predicted for later this week, will move us quickly into spring mode. To observe the opening of waterways, check the NASA EOSDIS Worldview web site.  Adjust the date and scroll to find a clear day when Lake Nipissing and other areas of interest are visible. The long term average date for Lake Nipissing to be ice free is April 28. Last year, the official ice-free date was May 14.


MNRF and Nipissing First Nation Extend Walleye Fishery Agreement
Posted March 12, 2019

See the North Bay Nugget article here.

West Nipissing (Finally) Approves Switch To OPP
Posted Feb. 25, 2019

After months of controversy, delays and deliberations, West Nipissing has finally decided to switch from its West Nipissing Police Service to the Ontario Provincial Police. For Upper French River cottagers, the result will be much simpler: If you need the police, call the OPP. See the Nugget article here. See the Security/Police page for a record of previous postings. The transition is slated for June, 2019.

Susan Lembke (1940-2019)
Posted Feb. 25, 2019

The UFRCA extends its condolences to the family of Susan Lembke, long time cottager on the French, who died recently. For the obituary submitted by niece Amy Watkins, click here.

Have Your Say – Cormorant Hunting in Ontario
Posted December 14, 2018

See the Environment Page: Flora and Fauna

Fall Newsletter
Posted December 9, 2018

While still officially fall, It's very wintry in the North Bay, Lake Nipissing and French River area. Here is the "Fall" UFRCA newsletter.


UFRCA has a new mailing address!

For years, our address has been c/o Kennedy Insurance in North Bay.  As a result of changes on our Board of Directors, our new address is:

Upper French River Cottagers Association

1 Yonge Street, Suite 1801

Toronto, Ontario  M5E 1W7

The address is a “virtual mailbox”. The service has been in place for quite a few years in Ontario and is easy to administer because it all done online.  Mail sent to this address will be forwarded automatically to the Board member designated each year to receive it, and this year (2018-19), it’s our Treasurer, Jayne-Ann Steele.  In the future, our mailing address won’t change even if our Board members do. If you are sending something to us through the mail, please use the new address.

 

Election Results
Posted October 23, 2018

Joanne Savage returns as Mayor of West Nipissing, and Denis Senecal is the new Ward 8 councillor, replacing Guy Fortier.
North Bay Nugget Oct. 23, 2018 Savage Returns as Mayor
See Messages from Mayoralty and Councillor Candidates


 

EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS
Posted July 15, 2016
Updated March 19, 2019
Note: This article and the linked document are current. When policing in West Nipissing Municipality changes to the OPP in June, 2019, there will be some modifications to this policy.

As a follow-up to our recent bulletin on Emergency Services on the Upper French River, UFRCA received some inquiries about specific phone numbers that people can call in the event of medical, police, and fire emergencies. In response, we put together the attached document which provides additional detail and phone numbers. The first page of the attachment is for residents of the Municipality of West Nipissing (Bertram Township).  The second page is for residents of the Unorganized District of Centre Parry Sound (the south side of the river in Hardy and Patterson Townships). 

A key distinction between the two areas is that in the Unorganized District of Centre Parry Sound there is no 911 service on land lines.  In a medical emergency, cottagers in the Unorganized District of Centre Parry Sound would need to call EMS directly and we have provided 1-800 numbers for this purpose. In a policing emergency, you would need to call the OPP directly and their central dispatch number is provided as well. 

Just a few more very important points that EMS officials asked us to stress:
- Always make sure you know or have on hand your cottage GPS coordinates and, for those in West Nipissing,  your municipal address (that's the little blue sign – for example “WB212-1”)  
- Keep them by the phone and make sure everyone (family and guests) knows where they are. 
- Educate family and guests on what to do in an emergency and where the closest land access/marina is. 
- If you are not at your cottage when you make an emergency call (for example – a cell phone from a boat) you should try to have some way to determine your GPS coordinates. 

To view the document, click Users Summary July 2016.pdf