A Small Step

I have been reading about the water levels on the Rideau Waterway. The water levels are regulated by a series of control dams, locks and reservoir lakes. The waterway was built to work with nature as much as possible. Aware of the dangers of spring flooding, locks and control dams were built to give some control to the water level. Keeping the water level high enough to navigate through the waterway channels is done by holding back enough water in the upper lakes that work as reservoirs, but those calculations are not enough when Mother Nature steps in and we get a dry summer like the one we have just had.

The problem with buffering enough water for the season is that it causes a huge variation to the water level along the shoreline. For us this has been an issue, because we don’t have a floating dock. The level of the water dropped so much that getting in and out of the boats became a problem. The boats would drift off under the dock and were not stable without the dock to rest up against.  Although, the water level became so low, the last time we took the boats out, that the canoe was actually grounded and we had to push ourselves into deeper water with our paddles.


We came up with a solution by putting a cinder block into the water, just off the dock. We covered it with wood to protect the boats from rubbing up against it.


It gave us a step down to the water level and a place for the boat to come along side to give a little stability for getting in and out of the boat. It was small and not as easy as it is to come along side the dock, but better than losing the boat underneath!


The water level has now risen again and we have taken out our little step. I was surprised to see how much the level has risen. Apparently a couple of weeks of rain are enough to replenish water levels in the Rideau. I am wondering if it will drop again. In the fall, several lakes are dropped to a winter level to accommodate trout spawning. Trout need shallow water to spawn.

We will have to see how the levels change next year, but if a low water level becomes a pattern we might need to consider putting in a floating dock. A small floating dock going off our fixed dock would change with the water levels and make getting in and out of the boats much easier. However, with our long list of things we want to do, our small step might have to serve us for a little while yet.


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