FREDERICTON (GNB) – After 10 weeks in operation, the River Watch Program for the 2017 freshet season comes to an end today.

Water levels in all areas along the St. John River basin continue to decrease and are returning to normal levels.

“For a second year in a row, we came out of the freshet season with limited damage and impact,” said Justice and Public Safety Minister Denis Landry. “In comparison with what happened in neighboring jurisdictions, we can certainly be relieved that most of our communities have been spared from severe flood damage. But we should continue to work on preparedness to be able to face any challenges in the future.”

The River Watch Program officially started on March 13 to provide New Brunswickers with information on the status of rivers and the potential risks of ice jams and other flood issues throughout the duration of the ice-out and spring freshet season.

The program is a joint effort between the Department of Environment and Local Government, NB Power and the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization (NB EMO) of the Department of Justice and Public Safety. Other partners include Environment and Climate Change Canada, watershed groups, and federal, provincial and state agencies involved in monitoring and forecasting the water flow in the province's rivers and streams.

“The Hydrology Centre at the Department of Environment and Local Government is a key partner in the River Watch Program,” said Environment and Local Government Minister Serge Rousselle. “For the last 10 weeks, staff collected data from various sources to establish river modeling and forecasting. These efforts helped residents to be informed of any risks that were identified.”

Over the last 10 weeks, staff published nearly 40 public advisories, conducted hundreds of interviews with provincial media, and posted numerous advisories on Facebook and Twitter. NB EMO social media is followed by thousands of residents.

“I thank the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, all River Watch partners, first responders, municipal staff and volunteers who worked diligently throughout the freshet season,” said Landry. “By working together we are making New Brunswick a safer province for all of our residents.”

Even though active monitoring has ended, Landry reminded New Brunswickers that the River Watch program continues throughout the year and will provide river forecasting as required during heavy rainfall events.

Landry also encouraged New Brunswickers to have an emergency kit and an evacuation plan ready at all times.

A basic emergency kit should include everything needed to sustain a family for 72 hours, such as water, food, battery-powered radios and flashlights, and a first aid kit. Families should consider having a stock of items specific to their needs, such as prescriptions, diapers or infant formula.

More information about 72-Hour Emergency Preparedness is available online.