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City crews blasting towards spring - Metro US

City crews blasting towards spring

Those little explosions thundering through neighbourhoods near the Rideau River are one of the first signs of spring.

They were made by city crews breaking up the ice on the river with explosives to avoid flooding when it thaws.

“This is done every year, for 100 years now,” explained Chuck Wheatley, zone supervisor for the Rideau River Flood Control.

If they left the ice to melt its own, he said, “there is a good chance that parts of the city would flood — all the low-lying areas nearby.”

If the ice break-up wasn’t controlled it could get caught near one of the bridges, like a dam, and cause the river to back up and flood.

Crews started blasting at the Rideau Falls around 7 a.m. on Saturday and continued through to Sunday, making it halfway to St. Patrick Street bridge before an ice jam near the Rideau Falls forced them to shut down for the day.

Sometime today an ice-breaking machine will take over and break ice the rest of the way along the river through the city. Wheatley said the machine is like a barge with a backhoe that breaks the ice as it pulls itself along.

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