FREDERICTON (GNB) – The River Watch program will officially start today to provide New Brunswickers with information on the status of rivers, potential ice jams and other flood issues across the province over the coming weeks.

“Last spring’s record flooding highlights the importance of River Watch. The work between the provincial government and its many partners is essential to keeping New Brunswickers informed and safe during flood season,” said Public Safety Minister Carl Urquhart.

The River Watch program is a collaboration between the Department of Environment and Local Government and the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization. Other partners include NB Power, watershed groups, federal and provincial governments as well as agencies in the United States involved in monitoring and forecasting the water flow in the province's rivers and streams.

“Several factors contribute to a flooding event including snowpack, precipitation, air temperature, and river ice,” said Environment and Local Government Minister Jeff Carr. “Our hydrologists work with numerous partners to monitor and forecast water levels, flows and identify any potential problems that could come with the spring melt.”

Each morning River Watch officials, including hydrology experts, receive a weather briefing and collect data from several sources to build river models and forecasts. The public is then informed if there are potential threats.

During the River Watch season, New Brunswickers should:

•           be prepared for possible flooding and have a plan to evacuate and be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours;

•           move belongings to higher ground if their property is near a waterway or is in an area that is prone to flooding;

•           avoid the banks of waterways, as they become dangerous this time of year. The water is cold and currents are swift and could carry debris;

•           be aware that, as ice continues to deteriorate, it may become unsafe to cross waterways on foot, in cars, or on snowmobiles or ATVs;

•           call the River Watch Toll Free Number 1-888-561-4048 to receive the latest recorded water levels, forecasts and public advisories;

•           call 511 for road closures and conditions or check online;

•           read helpful tips, the latest forecasts and public advisories by visiting the River Watch website, or by following the Emergency Measures Organization on Twitter and Facebook; and

•           report significant ice jams or rising water. If you need advice, contact the Emergency Measures Organization at 1-800-561-4034.

Weather warnings are also available online.

The New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization co-ordinates preparedness for emergencies. It also co-ordinates provincial response operations during emergencies and administers disaster financial assistance programs.