Frequently Asked Questions

Q 1: Who is the Board and what do they do?

A: The Board consists of seven members who represent Canada (3 members), Ontario (2 members), and Quebec (2 members). The member agencies that make up the Board are:

  • Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs du Québec
  • Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
  • Hydro Québec
  • Ontario Power Generation
  • Environment Canada
  • Public Works and Government Services Canada
  • Canadian Coast Guard
The mandate of the Board is to formulate regulation policies and criteria leading to integrated management of the principal reservoirs of the Ottawa River basin. The Board also aims, through integrated management, to minimize flooding along the Ottawa River and its tributaries and particularly in the Montreal region and, at the same time, maintain the interests of the various users, particularly hydroelectric production.

Q 2: What is "integrated management"?

A: The term "integrated management" means that all the different dam operators in the basin operate their facilities with knowledge of what the other operators are doing and the consequences of operational decisions elsewhere in the Ottawa River basin. This type of management allows the reservoirs in the basin to be used in order to minimize flood damages. However because of the nature of the basin, the limited storage capacity and the location of the storage, flooding cannot always be avoided.

Q 3: How is "integrated management" achieved in the Ottawa River basin?

A: In order to provide integrated management in the Ottawa River basin there is a continuous flow of information between the agencies of the Ottawa River Regulating Committee (ORRC). The ORRC reports to the Board. The ORRC is comprised of the agencies who manage the principal structures in the basin. They are responsible for the day-to-day operations at the dams. The Ottawa River Regulation Secretariat is the executive arm of the Board. The Secretariat assists the ORRC in all aspects of its work and also acts as a data processing centre. During the spring freshet, or other unusually high flow events, there is a daily exchange of data between the agencies of the ORRC and the Secretariat. The data received from the agencies includes real time data collected from remote sensing equipment located throughout the basin as well as declared operations at their structures for a period of ten days. The Secretariat combines this data with forecasted inflows for all tributaries and other points in the basin as input to a flow routing model and an optimisation model that predict water levels and flows at different points throughout the basin. The model results are evaluated by the ORRC and Secretariat and discussed at a conference call during critical periods to confirm or change operational strategy in order to minimize the impacts of flooding. This process is repeated every day and once a week outside of freshet period.

Q 4: Instead of checking your website everyday, can I receive daily level updates by email?

A: The Ottawa River Regulation Secretariat does not have the resources available to be able to offer this type of service. You will have to check the website or toll-free information telephone line for daily updates during the spring freshet and once a week outside the freshet period.

Q 5: Why is the water level so low in my section of river when levels are very high and even flooding elsewhere on the river?

A: This phenomenon happens at a few locations on the main stream of the Ottawa River and also at some locations on tributaries. One of the main principles observed when development of the river occurred was that the operation of any generating station, during high flows, should not create worse flooding conditions anywhere along the river than what existed prior to development. Depending on hydraulics of certain river reaches, the upstream water level at a generating station can have a backwater effect for many kilometers upstream, even in excess of 50 km. What this means is that as river flows increase, certain generating stations have to lower their upstream water levels to control flooding in communities much farther upstream in order to return conditions as close as possible to pre-development. At these particular locations, the upstream water levels of the generating stations cannot be increased until river flow declines significantly. This is because if a major rainfall should occur then the upstream water level would have to be quickly lowered, making flooding conditions worse in downstream communities. The three main sites on the main stem of the Ottawa River where this phenomenon occurs and the reaches impacted are upstream of Carillon, Chats Falls and Des Joachims.

Q 6: Where can I find information regarding water levels and flows in the Lac des Deux Montagnes / Montreal region during the spring freshet?

A: The Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec has a web site with current and forecast water levels and flows available for the Montreal area at the following URL:


Q 7: My water supply comes from a well. I would like to know the condition of the water table this year. I would also like to know if my well is built correctly.

A: Your local municipality, ministry of environment or conservation authority are best suited to answer these types of questions. Several conservation authorities in Ontario are participating in a provincial groundwater quality and quantity study. The Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority has a Groundwater information page at the following URL:


Consult Ottawa River Water Levels and Flows