Flooding and erosion are dramatic and potentially damaging natural hazards. Both urban settlement and agricultural activity have created potential flood problems by altering the flow patterns of rivers and streams in the Maitland and Nine Mile River watersheds. Good planning now restricts development in flood prone areas. There are however, several communities in the watershed that are at risk from flooding because of older development in flood prone areas. In addition, highly erodible bluffs along the Lake Huron shoreline create potential risks for shoreline development.
Maitland Conservation uses a network of stream gauging stations and knowledge of the watershed to provide flood forecasting services to municipalities who are responsible for the safety of their residents. The gauging stations collect data such as hourly records of water levels and flow rates, rainfall amounts, wind direction and speed and temperature. This information is relayed to the Authority’s Flood Forecasting Centre in Wroxeter. In addition to the gauging stations, Maitland Conservation has also recently added a number of precipitation gauges upstream of Harriston, Listowel and Lucknow. With the increase in sudden, intense rainstorms being experienced in the watershed, these communities are at increased risk for flash flooding. The precipitation gauges will assist staff to notify municipalities of potential flooding in a timely manner.
Maitland Conservation now has over 45 years of data from which to predict trends in water flows. This information is used not only in flood situations, but also to monitor drought conditions across the watershed.
Maitland Conservation Flood and Erosion Safety Services include:
- Monitoring waterways and issuing flood bulletins to municipalities and the media.
- Planning for flood and erosion emergencies and assisting municipalities to develop flood plans.
- Providing mapping and hydrology services to our member municipalities.
- Maintenance of flood and erosion control structures in Listowel, Goderich and the Municipality of Central Huron.
- Working to help shoreline landowners understand the risk that bluff and gully erosion poses to development.
- Administration of regulations to ensure that fill, construction and alterations to waterways proposals do not adversely affect slope stability, or cause flooding or pollution.
Individuals Make a Difference
In addition to Maitland Conservation’s network of stations there are many individuals who collect rainfall information to assist with flood forecasting and the monitoring of precipitation trends. These landowners collect data using manual rain gauges and input the data on-line through the Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow Network ( http://www.cocorahs.org/ ).
This data collection is important because enables Conservation Authorities to get a more complete picture of how rainfall varies within watersheds. In recent years the Maitland and Nine Mile River watersheds have been experiencing an increase in intense rain storms that impact specific locations. The manual rain gauge information is a valuable tool in tracking these events.