Winter Safety Statement: Exercise Caution Near All Waterways

GRCA Administrative Office, Port Hope

Watershed Condition: Outlook / Safety

Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) reminds residents of dangers that can exist around waterways during winter runoff conditions and that individuals should exercise caution and keep family and pets at a safe distance from the water’s edge.

Flood Potential: Low

With an El-Nino event occasionally interrupted by a polar vortex, we can expect to experience frequent freeze-thaw cycles throughout the coming winter months. Fluctuations of temperature and precipitation types can increase runoff and contribute to higher water levels and faster flows in local watercourses. Once rivers and waterbodies become ice covered, periods of rainfall and snowmelt can result in the weakening, shifting, and melting of that ice cover, making it unsafe.

Other hazardous conditions, such as ice jams, can also be increased by frequent freeze-thaw cycles or a sudden warm up causing significant ice and snowmelt. Additionally, slippery and unstable streambanks combined with extremely cold-water temperatures, can lead to dangerous conditions next to any type of water body during the winter months.

Be safe this winter and remember the following:

  • Keep family members and pets away from riverbanks and edges of all water bodies, even if the surface appears to be ice covered.
  • Do not attempt to drive or walk on iced-covered water bodies. Always obey any posted safety signage.
  • Avoid all recreational activities in or around water, especially near ice jams or ice-covered water bodies, unless at an officially designated municipal facility
  • Stormwater ponds/facilities were not built for ice skating. Water levels on these ponds can change due to road salt, snow melt and changing temperatures causing cracks and dangerously thin ice.
  • Beware of thin ice that may develop around dams. Dam operators often lower water levels in reservoirs during winter and spring.
  • Rescuing another person or a pet from ice is dangerous. If you see anyone that has fallen through the ice, call 9-1-1 for help immediately.

For more information, contact your local Conservation Authority.


If you have questions, please contact the GRCA:

Mike Smith
Flood Operations Officer

Cory Harris, P.Eng.
Flood Forecasting & Warning Supervisor