Why Is Ottawa Blowing Up Its River?

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"Why Ottawa bombs its frozen rivers." How could this headline not get your attention? Once again, the BBC has managed to answer a question none of us had ever thought to ask. Here's their summary:

At the end of each winter, explosives experts lay dynamite in the icy river that runs through the heart of Ottawa, Canada. Why? And what does this do to the fish?

Okay,  now you've got our attention. What does this do to the fish? It turns out Ottawa will bomb its frozen Rideau River this weekend, an annual ritual that prevents ice traffic jams. Workers carve long channels in the ice, then drill holes and pack them with dynamite. The explosion breaks the frozen surface into mini-icebergs that float smoothly downstream instead of crowding around bridges and causing floods.

The fish, BBC's Megan Lane reports, stay in pools far below the surface, but the explosives could still hurt them. So now Ottawa workers use less dynamite and more of an "amphibious excavator"--a super cool massive claw-arm boat.

Now we know, and now you do, too.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.