Residents and cottagers discuss Black River flooding and possible solutions

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Peter L. Smith


Peter L. Smith

WALTHAM – Fifteen concerned citizens met at the Waltham Station, Saturday, January 20, to discuss recent flooding along the Black River Road. The Black River and Green Lake Cottagers’ Association and Black River residents held a round table discussion to compile a list of concerns and possible solutions they hoped to present to MP William Amos; that meeting has now been postponed until February. 
Issues arising from the flooding include safety, accessibility, tourism as well as property and environmental damage.
Brookfield operates the hydro electric facility on the Black River, generating revenue for the company; however, the committee noted safety had to come before profits and having knowledge and experience on the dam’s operation is essential to achieve that. This last point referenced previous managers at the dam site, who had more experience on water control. 
Changes in water flow cause problems such as ice dams; these could possibly be mitigated with better monitoring and residents are currently doing this voluntarily. Residents on the Black River are not always able to access their property which, they say, adversely affects the local economy and the value of their property. The flooding also affects tourism operators.
Although improvements have been made to the Black River Road in past years the flooding negates some of it, especially with erosion; installing larger culverts and raising the road in certain areas should help these issues, noted residents.
Judy Buchanan, President of the Black River and Green Lake Cottagers’ Association spoke with Julie Chagnon from Brookfield’s Energy, who said there have been many studies done, but, without a clear solution. A collaborative approach between Brookfield, the Municipality of Waltham and the Quebec government was suggested. 
She also spoke with Denise Morrissette, André Fortin’s political attaché, who urged the group to send an email explaining environmental and other issues to Daniel Dubuc, at the Ministry of Sustainable Development and the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change. Buchanan noted the lines of communication need to be kept open as they continue to look for a permanent solution.