Within an environment unaffected by human activity and settlement, flooding will still occur. However, human activity and settlement in the region have affected the hydrological cycle in such a way that the frequency and magnitude of flooding has increased. This, combined with intensified development in the hazardous flood zone adjacent to watercourses, means that floods have become the most common and most taxing type of disaster faced by today’s area residents and municipalities causing losses of material assets, and cultural and ecological resources.

Otonabee Conservation works in partnership with member municipalities and other government agencies (Trent-Severn Waterway and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources) to address the problems of flood and flood damages. At the local level, there are two approaches used:

1) Structural approaches – structural approaches are used to help resolve problems created by past land-use practices and decisions (i.e., reduce flood vulnerability in existing developments)

2) Non-structural approaches – non-structural measures are used to both reduce the escalating costs of flood damages and risk of injury in existing flood vulnerable locations, and to avoid creating new problems (e.g. flood forecasting and warning)

Flood Forecasting and Warning

Otonabee Conservation maintains an early detection and flood messaging system for historical development in the hazardous flood zone adjacent to area lakes, rivers, streams and creeks.  That is, a flood forecasting and warning service. The purpose of this flood forecasting and warning service is to prevent loss of life and reduce damage to property by providing residents and municipal officials with as much advance notice, information and advice as possible regarding an impending flood so that they can prepare themselves and optimize the municipal response.

The aim of the service is two-fold:

  • Accurately assess flood risk
  • Issue a flood message (i.e., Bulletin, Watch or Warning) as early as possible

To accomplish this, the Conservation Authority’s flood forecasting and flood warning function employs artfully trained Duty Officers to maintain a watch of:

  • Current weather conditions
  • Forecast weather conditions
  • Weather satellite images
  • Weather radar images
  • Stream flow and levels
  • Soil condition  – moisture content, and whether frozen or unfrozen
  • Snow accumulation and depletion  – snowpack depth, density and water content
  • Ice cover conditions  – ice cover formation and break-up

When the Conservation Authority’s Flood Forecasting and Warning Duty Officer detects a risk of high water causing safety concerns or the potential for flooding causing a threat to life and/or property, then the Duty Officer will take immediate action to notify affected municipalities.