Archived Research Projects
Archived Research Projects
Click on a project title below to view a project brief summary and any associated documentation.
- Hydrologic zone of influence downstream of waterpower facilities: Review and analysis of relevant literature and applicability for use in Ontario
- An analysis of three environmental flow metrics using simulated natural flows for five potential waterpower facilities in northeastern Ontario
- Hydrological impacts of using woody biomass for heat and/or electricity production in the context of a biomass LCA in the Atikokan power generating station supply area
- Evaluation of Hydrological Models in the Ontario Flow Assessment Techniques (OFAT) Software Tool
- Bosworth Creek (NWT) Water Quality Data Study
- Review of Research on the Forest-Water Interface in Canada
- Milton Urban Area Expansion Project
- Ontario Water Level Lake Series Research
- Magpie River Ramping Rate Study
- Genetic Structure and Diversity of Native and Exploited Lake Trout Populations
- Impacts of Housing Developments and Trails on the Integrity of Ganaraska Forest Bird Communities
- Hydrometric Network Standards
- Enhancing the Capacity for Water Quality Protection, Assessment and Management in the Yukon
- Characterization of Groundwater Recharge through Field Measurements using an Network of Soil Moisture Sensors
- Identification of Groundwater Recharge Areas through Spatiotemporal Analysis
- Identifying Depression-Focussed Recharge areas in Hummocky Terrain Landscapes using Automated Digital Landform Classification Techniques
- Characterisation and Classification of Flow Regimes of Natural Rivers in Ontario to Support the Identification of Potential Reference Basins
- Ontario Stream Segmentation and Characterization using Arc Hydro
- The Ecology and Management of Riverine Fishes
- A Surface Water Quality Threats Assessment Method using Landscape-based Indexing
- Design Standards for Improving Fish Habitat Management
- Low Flow Information for the Province of Ontario
- Network Design Study for the Ontario Stream Gauge Rehabilitation Project
Hydrologic zone of influence downstream of waterpower facilities: Review and analysis of relevant literature and applicability for use in Ontario.
Dams have the potential to significantly alter flow regimes, their effects often detectable at great distances downstream of the point of alteration. While the upstream extent of the zone of influence is often more easily defined based on the upstream extent of the zone of inundation of the reservoir or headpond, downstream extents are typically much more difficult to delimit or predict because they have no similar obvious boundary. The limit or extent of the downstream zone of influence is ideally defined as the point or location where project effects are no longer detectable, due to dilution or dampening from tributary inputs or other phenomena or by discharge to a larger waterbody, serving to attenuate upstream impacts. The objective of this work is to review and synthesise available literature pertaining to the hydrologic zone of influence downstream of hydropower stations with particular emphasis on the relevance of findings to landscapes and climatic conditions of Ontario. Preliminary findings emphasise the lack of information, practices or protocols for estimating the extent of downstream influence from waterpower facilities, particularly for use in Ontario.
Stainton, R.T. Hydrologic zone of influence downstream of waterpower facilities: Review and analysis of relevant literature and applicability for use in Ontario. Report No. 04-2011. Prepared for Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Northeast Region Engineering Unit.
An analysis of three environmental flow metrics using simulated natural flows for five potential waterpower facilities in northeastern Ontario
A comparison of three environmental flow metrics generated from simulated natural flow data for five primary and four supplemental potential waterpower sites in northeastern Ontario was undertaken to determine differences in flow magnitudes between methods, and identify trends in these differences. Monthly metrics investigated include the Q80, median baseflow (BF50) and seventy-fifth percent exceedence baseflow (BF75).
The monthly median baseflow (BF50) was observed to be closest in magnitude to the Q80, for both flow magnitude and FDC equivalents during months characterised by high flows brought upon by predictable hydrologic events in northeastern Ontario. Although the Q80 was observed to underestimate the median baseflow, for the majority of months of the year, differences in the consistency and relative magnitude of underestimation was observed among and between sites. Under the present situation, applying the BF50 on a monthly basis would result in flow targets higher in magnitude over the majority of the year, compared to the present monthly Q80 metric used in Ontario. While the magnitude of difference from the Q80 is generally not substantial, it is observed over the majority of the year. These data suggest that use of the Q80 metric prescribes a lower instream flow than would occur under natural conditions.
Monthly Q80 flows were mathematically closest in magnitude to the monthly seventy-fifth percent exceedence baseflow (BF75) values for many months of the year; however, it is important to recognize that these flows were consistently lower than the Q80. The BF75, which defines the baseflow target for the bypass reach would be implemented as a constant flow target carried across all months, defined by the BF75 flow corresponding to the month of lowest median baseflow. While the application of a constant flow target for the bypass reach does not mimic the natural variability of flows in the channel under unaltered conditions, data indicate that it does provide a flow comparable to the Q80 flow (differing < 1 m3 s-1) during months of the year in northern Ontario generally considered as low water periods (winter and summer seasons), under typical conditions. During these low flow periods, findings suggest that the BF75 does not represent a compromise relative to the Q80 flows in bypassed natural channel reaches. However, during other months of the year typically characterised by higher flows, similar suitable conditions may not be met, and under such circumstances a site by site consideration of valued ecosystem components, may be required.
Stainton, R.T., 2011. An analysis of three environmental flow metrics using simulated natural flows for five potential waterpower facilities in northeastern Ontario: Relationships between the 80th percent exceedence flow to median baseflow and the 75th percent exceedence baseflow. Report No. 03-2011. Prepared for Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Northeast Region Planning Unit. Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2011.
Hydrological impacts of using woody biomass for heat and/or electricity production in the context of a biomass LCA in the Atikokan power generating station supply area
Dr. Jim Buttle and Craig Murray
This report consists of a literature review of the impacts of intensive wood (or biofibre) harvesting practices for bioenergy production on the hydrology and biogeochemistry of the boreal and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forests in the vicinity of the Atikokan Generation Station, Ontario, and recommendations for hydrologically and biogeochemcially relevant metrics for a Life Cycle Assessment. The report addresses the following components:
- Factors relevant to the general hydrological characteristics of the Atikokan region.
- The general impacts of forest management on hydrological and biogeochemical processes, including a review of studies that have examined the hydrologic and hydrochemical effects of forest disturbance in northwestern Ontario, a focus on the hydrological significance of logging slash, and a discussion of the specific hydrologic and biogeochemical impacts of the selected forest management scenarios that may apply to biofibre harvesting for bioenergy production in the Atikokan region.
- Knowledge gaps in our understanding of the impacts of biofibre harvesting for bioenergy production on hydrology and biogeochemistry in general and in the specific context of the Atikokan region.
- Recommendations regarding hydrologically- and biogeochemically-relevant aspects of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of biofibre harvesting for bioenergy production, and environmental metrics that may be relevant in assessing the impacts of this harvesting on hydrological and biogeochemical properties and processes.
Evaluation of Hydrological Models in the Ontario Flow Assessment Techniques (OFAT) Software Tool
Ontario’s Far North comprises more than 40% of the province, generally the area north of 51 degrees latitude. Owing in part to the remoteness of this region, the density and distribution of streamflow gauges in Ontario’s hydrometric network remains much lower than observed in more southerly portions of Ontario’s north. However, in light of the recent Far North Planning Initiative, prediction of hydrological variables in these northern ungauged basins is becoming increasingly important, albeit difficult given the paucity of existing and historical streamflow data.
The Ontario Flow Assessment Techniques (OFAT) software tool includes a range of statistical models and empirical algorithms aimed at predicting a variety of streamflow variables in ungauged basins throughout Ontario using a GIS-based interface. To date a comprehensive review and assessment of model implementation in the OFAT environment and its applicability for flow prediction in the Far North has not been undertaken. An understanding of the applicability and suitability of OFAT hydrological models for predicting flow variables in these environments is timely and important.
In this study, six categories of hydrological models implemented in OFAT (Version 1 & 2) are reviewed. These include Low flow, High (Flood) flow, Mean Annual flow, Bankfull flow, and Minimum Instream flow and Daily Flow Hydrograph prediction models. In total, 21 hydrologic models are examined in the context of six comprehensive analysis criteria. Criteria focus on the background, geographic extent, scale appropriateness,
assumptions, strengths, limitations and any updates to the models or methods since the release of OFAT. These analyses serve to evaluate the overall utility and applicability of OFAT models for use in the Far North.
Stainton, R.T. 2010. Evaluation of Hydrological Models in the Ontario Flow Assessment Techniques (OFAT) Software Tool: Assessment of Model Suitability for Ontario’s Far North. Institute for Watershed Science, Report No. 0209. March, 2010. Prepared for, and with the collaborative support of, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
Bosworth Creek (NWT) Water Quality Data Study
Leslie Collins., Craig Murray and Ryan Stainton
This report summarizes water quality data gathered intermittently from 1953 to 2009 from Bosworth Creek, a small tributary to the Mackenzie River, located near the town of Norman Wells, in the Tulita District of the Northwest Territories. A weir was constructed on the Creek in 1960 by Imperial Oil Resources to create a small impoundment, serving to supply drinking water to the down and process water to the nearby oil field and processing facility. The weir was removed in 2005 and stream reclamation work completed. This presented an opportunity to examine water quality trends in the Creek as data were available prior to, during and following the removal of the weir. Additional anthropogenic influences on water quality upstream of the impoundment were also of interest. Water samples from Bosworth Creek watershed have been collected and analysed for a suite of water quality parameters. However, inconsistencies in the location, frequency and timing of water quality samples throughout this period limited the information that could be gleaned from them. These data did not support robust analyses of differences in concentrations during periods of pre, during and post impoundment, making analyses of trends difficult. All water quality data were compared to established guideline values for drinking water and aquatic life. Exceedances of Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality (GCDWQ) and the Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Live (GPAL) were noted for a small number of samples and parameters. Observed exceedances were generally infrequent, however some sites were more prone to guideline exceedances.Recommendations for a long term water quality monitoring program are also presented. Existing sample groups are ranked for inclusion in a future long term monitoring program
for water quality.
Collins, L.A., C.D. Murray and R.T. Stainton. 2011. Bosworth Creek Water Quality Data Study: Final Report Environmental Studies Research Funds Report No. 185. Oshawa, ON. 69 p.
Review of Research on the Forest-Water Interface in Canada
Dr. Jim Buttle and Craig Murray
This project reviews the key research issues related to the Forest-Water Interface (FWI) in Canada, and our current state of knowledge to address these issues. These key research issues include the need for studies of hydroecological responses to newer silvicultural approaches, development of the capacity to predict the hydroecological response to climate change across Canada’s various forest landscapes, examination of how to transfer research results across spatial scales, and explicit consideration of cumulative effects in our assessments of forest disturbance and its implications for FWI issues. Our current state of knowledge to address many of these issues is tentative, and there is an urgent need for continued research to address these and other important research questions related to FWI issues. The report examines Canada’s current Science and Technology (S&T) capacity to address any knowledge gaps in our understanding of FWI issues, as well as the administrative and geographic location of that capacity.
Milton Urban Area Expansion Project
Daelyn Woolnough [A], Melanie Kingsbury [A], Marguerite Xenopoulos[A] and Paul Frost [A], Jim Buttle [B]
[A] Biology Department, Trent University
[B] Geography Department, Trent University
Due to the Milton Urban Expansion Project the Town of Milton has a growing need for environmental monitoring. The Phase One Area environmental monitoring program includes hydrometerological, fluvial geomorphological and water quality monitoring as part of the Milton Urban Expansion Project (Phillips Eng. 2000). This monitoring was initiated in 2003 to provide background data and recommendations for the development of the Phase One Area and the future development of Phases Two and Three. The environmental monitoring program is a requirement of both Federal and Provincial regulatory agencies and considers the impact of development on the Sixteen Mile Creek sub-watershed.
The three year initial Environmental Monitoring Plan for the Phase Two Area of this project incorporates a holistic monitoring program that includes hydrological and water quality monitoring as well as biodiversity surveys and ecological land classification. This monitoring uses some of the same monitoring protocols used in the Phase One Area monitoring and will, in turn, provide background data and recommendations for the development of the Phase Two Area and the future development of Phase Three Area. Concerns and results that are identified here are not unique to the Town of Milton. In many parts of Ontario, Canada and North America towns and cities are wrestling with ways to effectively monitor environmental conditions during development.
Reports are available upon request from the Town of Milton.
Ontario Water Level Lake Series
Michael White [A], Marguerite Xenopoulos [A], Robert Metcalfe [B]
[A] Biology Department, Trent University
[B] Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
The Ontario Water Level Lake Series (OWLLS) project focuses on understanding how water level fluctuation structures littoral benthic macro-invertebrate communities. It was created due to a paucity of data concerning natural water level fluctuation across the province. OWLLS consisted of twenty-one natural lakes, dispersed across the province, where water level and temperature are recorded at hourly intervals 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
Magpie River Ramping Rate Study
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
The Magpie River Ramping Rate Study (MRRRS) aims to investigate the ecological impacts of hydroelectric operations on the Magpie River, Wawa, Ontario. Specifically, the purpose of the study is to investigate the ecological impacts associated with varying the rates of change of flow (i.e. ramping rates, m3 sec-1 hr-1) downstream of the Steephill Falls waterpower facility. The experiment design follows the Adaptive Ecosystem Assessment and Management Approach (AEAM) and Before After Control Impact (BACI) design. The control, or reference system, is meant to provide information on the concurrent natural variability of a riverine ecosystem to allow the isolation of impacts associated with waterpower operations on the experimental system. The Batchawana River, an unregulated system near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, was selected as a reference system for this study.
The main objective of this study is to provide sound scientific research to clarify the effect of ramping rate magnitude on the riverine ecosystem, required for a thorough review of ramping rate restrictions at the Steephill Falls waterpower facility on the Magpie River.
This is being achieved by focusing the investigation on the spatial and temporal variation of the following primary variables in relation to varying ramping rate magnitudes:
- Flow (stage [m], velocity [m/s], and discharge [m3/s]) and suspended sediment regimes;
- Fish habitat; and
- Fish population/community structure.
The MRRRS, entering its sixth field season in 2007 (of an eight year study). It is being lead by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), - Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Sault Ste. Marie in partnership with Brookfield Power Corp. Ltd. and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR). The OMNR as partnered with the Institute for Watershed Science to lead its role in this project which focuses on the measurement of the primary variables listed above.
Genetic Structure and Diversity of Native and Exploited Lake Trout Populations
Biology Department, Trent University
When the genetic background of donor and recipient fish populations are poorly matched, supplemental stocking may be unsuccessful. Stocked fish may not survive, or they may numerically replace naturally produced individuals without contributing to a self-sustaining, wild population. Even in cases where supplemental stocking is successful, interbreeding between indigenous fish and non-native hatchery strains can lead to homogenization of native population genetic structure. Ultimately these admixed populations may be less suited to changes in the natural environment than the original natives.
This research is focused on determining how supplemental stocking has altered patterns of natural genetic diversity in lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) populations. The research is being conducted using a genetic profiling methodology to evaluate populations in three different, representative regions of natural genetic diversity in Ontario and the Great Lakes region. Both mitochondrial and microsatellite DNA variation are being measured to assess the degree of interbreeding between stocked and native lake trout. The research also includes an evaluating the influence of environmental and anthropogenic impacts on the reproductive success of supplemented individuals.
Impacts of Housing Developments and Trails on the Integrity of Ganaraska Forest Bird Communities
Benjamin Walters and Erica Nol,
Biology Department, Trent University
In recent decades North American neotropical migrant populations have seriously declined. Potential causes of declines in forest bird productivity and abundance include loss of regional forest cover, habitat loss through timber harvesting, and fragmentation, trails that increase edges and hence, predation risk, and surrounding land uses that also influence the predation pressure on bird nests.
Population sinks, habitats where individuals do not successfully reproduce to replace themselves, can only be maintained by immigration from source populations. In southern and central Ontario studies have shown small forest fragments to be strong population sinks, potentially causing reductions of 19-24 %. Population sources are localities where stable populations replace themselves, and population growth exceeds annual input. Management options that ensure that bird populations in large park environments act as sources are critical in maintaining landscape-level populations.
The Ganaraska Forest is a major woodland in south-central Ontario, yet no avian or wildlife studies have been carried out to determine population status or conservation priorities. This large forest has a surprising diversity of birds, from those more typical of much more northerly ecosystems, to those more typical of the rare (in Canada) Carolinian forest. Thus, this large forest is an extremely important (and probably unmatched) nursery for avian biodiversity in central eastern Ontario. While we recognize the need of further study for increased sample sizes and therefore confidence, these results offer provide baseline information for further management considerations related to recreation, harvesting and interior/edge boundary maintenance or creation.
Although no direct consequences of current recreational use or surrounding land-use were evident, 5 of 7 species demonstrate similar population dynamics in small (< 20 ha) forest fragments in Peterborough County, with the Ganaraska unable to provide an environment condusive to reproduction at the replacement level. This suggests that the gaps within the Ganaraska Forest, either because of trails or because of current silvicultural practices are replicating conditions also present in small forest fragments to the north. These conditions include not only increased predation risk but also a reduction in potential food that could lead to reduced nest attentiveness,that, in turn, would lead to increases in nest predation. These hypotheses will be tested explicitly with a more complete data set in the upcoming years.
Department of Civil Engineering and School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University
The project objectives are to establish national standards and the data requirements to meet those Standards in the key business areas for the national hydrometric monitoring network. The national standards developed will be used by provinces/territories to establish their own targets and performance measures, ensuring a common language across jurisdictions and the transferability of hydrometric information.
The National Administrators Table initiated a Federal-Provincial/Territorial Hydrometric Working Group on Performance Measures whose function is to determine how best to measure the performance of managers of the national hydrometric monitoring network. The goal of the group is to establish national outcomes and standards in the key business areas of hydrometric monitoring and thereby provide the framework under which provinces/territories can openly establish targets and performance measures for their hydrometric networks. Key business areas include public safety/emergency management, regulatory, ecosystem health, education/awareness, economic development, and infrastructure.
A Standard is the optimal level of performance as deemed by an expert in the field, for a product or service. Standards determine what the optimal outcome or endpoint is for planned actions or activities and should guide the development and implementation of related programs. A standard can be criteria-specific; criteria include risk level, economic factors, etc.
The vision for the national hydrometric network is to provide Canadians with sufficient hydrometric data on water availability/stream flow to enhance human safety, ecosystem health, and economic prosperity/competitiveness. Thus, desired outcomes include:
- Sufficient hydrometric data to enable reliable and comprehensive integrated freshwater planning, environmental management and study;
- All communities having sufficient hydrometric data to support adequate flood risk mitigation;
- All communities with drought risk have sufficient hydrometric data to support adequate drought risk mitigation.
Enhancing the Capacity of First Nation communities for Source Water Protection within the Yukon Territory
Chris Metcalfe [A], Gordon Balch [A], Chris Furgal [B], Pat Roach[C], Kevin Rumsey[C], Victoria Edge[D] and Brent Wootton [E]
[A] Institute for Watershed Science, Trent University
[B] Departments of Indigenous Studies and Environment and Resource Studies, Trent University
[C] Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), Whitehorse
[D] Public Health Agency of Canada
[E] Centre for Alternative Wastewater Treatment, Sir Sandford Fleming College
This project will enhance the source water protection capacity of First Nation communities within the Yukon. It is funded by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. This project brings together Aboriginal partners, government, Trent University and Fleming College for the enhancement of regional and local capacities to understand, manage, assess and protect drinking water resources of First Nation communities in the Yukon. It represents the development of a training module (workshop and web-based) that could be transferable to other Aboriginal communities and regions across the country who require this material.
Characterisation of Groundwater Recharge through Field Measurements using an Network of Soil Moisture Sensors
Institute of Watershed Science, Trent University
Groundwater recharge can be diffuse, occurring at a relatively consistent rate, but may also occur at much higher rates and volumes in areas of focused recharge, which function as preferential flow pathways. A variety of methods have been employed to identify areas with potential to support higher rates of groundwater recharge. This identification, delineation and management of focused recharge areas is paramount to the protection of drinking water sources and maintenance of water quantity and quality in streams, rivers and wetlands due to their potential connectivity to these areas, and inherent vulnerability.
Despite the widespread application of these methods, no known studies have been undertaken to field validate the effectiveness of such methods to accurately identify locations with higher recharge rates. Better knowledge of the effectiveness of these predictive methods is essential to protect source waters in the province, acknowledging that high volume recharge areas are highly vulnerable due to their connectivity to the water table. The proposed study will fill these knowledge and research gaps by conducting an in-situ field validation of methods presently used in Ontario to delineate recharge areas based on an assessment of recharge rate/quantity using a continuous soil moisture monitoring network. The objective of this research is to evaluate whether areas identified as having high recharge potential, actually experience higher rates of recharge relative to areas classified to have low recharge potential.
Identification of Groundwater Recharge through Spatiotemporal Analysis
Institute for Watershed Science, Trent University
Groundwater recharge is an important parameter required for many hydrologic analyses, including those needed for Water Budget and Water Quantity Risk Assessment (WB/WQRA) under Ontario’s program for Source Water Protection. In the context of hydrology, recharge represents the fraction of precipitation which reaches the groundwater table by percolation through the soil vadose zone after run-off and evaporative losses at the soil-vegetation-atmosphere interface. Recharge is difficult to quantify, especially at the extensive scale needed for watershed-based Source Water Protection. This is due to the complexity and spatial heterogeneity of the physical factors influencing recharge at the watershed scale. Recharge is often a required input parameter for advanced numerical hydrological modelling. For this purpose, recharge is usually assumed to be uniform across the model domain because more detailed information is not available. The proposed research will use spatially distributed land surface process modelling and other spatial analysis techniques to create more spatiotemporally informed estimates of groundwater recharge for use within the tiered assessment framework of the WB/WQRA programs. The final results of the research will be a comprehensive report on the findings including a detailed methodology (with sample input/output data sets) which will be transferable to other areas of Ontario. The proposed research is aimed at identifying current groundwater recharge conditions. However, future research will be able to utilize the results of this research to assess the impacts of climate and land use change
Identifying Depression-Focussed Recharge Areas in Hummocky Terrain Landscapes using Automated Digital Landform Classification Techniques
Scott Bates and Robert Metcalfe,
Watershed Science Centre, Trent University
The accurate delineation of depression-focussed recharge areas in hummocky terrain can be used to advantage in both groundwater and surface water modelling. The closed drainage patterns (kettles and sinks), their location typically in headwater areas, combined with the generally coarser geological materials associated with hummocky terrain, result in such areas having a disproportionate hydrologic influence in relation to their surface area within the watersheds they are found.
The main objective of this project is the automated delineation of depression-focussed groundwater recharge areas located within hummocky terrain landscapes using morphological, hydrological and geological indicators in a GIS environment. A definition of “hummocky terrain” is established and an explanation of several morphological indicators is discussed. Digital elevation models (DEMs) of surface topography are assessed for their ability to produce logical landform classifications using the LandMapR software package. Sensitivity analyses are carried out to determine appropriate levels of DEM surface conditioning and depression removal. Results show LandMapR to be very robust when used in landform classification and relatively insensitive to surface conditioning and depression removal parameter settings when extreme values are avoided. A conceptual model of depression-focussed groundwater recharge is developed to describe relevant physical processes at two different scales. Based on the conceptual model a multi-criteria evaluation is performed with morphologic, geologic, and hydrologic inputs. Validation of the methodology and resulting depression-focussed groundwater recharge areas was performed using two methods. Comparison with other published groundwater recharge rates did not produce a strong relationship, although factors responsible for this are discussed. Comparison with field observed morphology and hydrology show a much better relationship to modelled depression focused groundwater recharge areas. This methodology should prove valuable to land and water resource managers although more rigorous validation of the results is recommended, with several methods proposed.
Characterisation and Classification of Flow Regimes of Natural Rivers in Ontario to Support the Identification of Potential Reference Basins
Ryan Stainton [A] and Robert Metcalfe[B]
[A] Watershed Science Centre, Trent University
[B] Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Reference basins are being increasingly used to better understand the ecological significance of hydrological variability, particularly on riverine systems. This includes long-term monitoring using reference basin networks for state-of-the-resource reporting and studying regional responses to climate change and as controls to determine whether ecological responses at impact sites are attributable to management decisions or natural variability. The need for reference basins in Ontario has been highlighted by increased interest in environmental flow methodologies for rivers regulated through water takings and waterpower generation and increased interest in understanding impacts of climate change on riverine systems.
To support the development of reference basins, additional work is required to understand the flow regimes of natural rivers in the province, particularly their relationship on a spatial and temporal scale and the degree of variability that they demonstrate both individually and relative to each other. This report aims to characterise natural flow regimes in Ontario through an assessment of their temporal variability, spatial distribution and hydrological composition, and to elucidate key landscape and hydroclimatic factors driving flow regime variability, to support the identification of a series of hydrologically driven reference basins for the province.
Project Report (PDF) ... Coming Soon
Ontario Stream Segmentation and Characterization using Arc Hydro
This project reviewed exisiting techniques and tools for segmenting stream networks into ecologically meaningful reaches. the methods that are outlined in the final document describe the practical application of the Arc Hydro data model and tools to segment streams based on a variety of hydrologically significant landscape characteristics at three levels of reach, reach contributing area, and total upstream reach drainage area.
The Ecology and Management of Riverine Fishes
Scott Reid, Biology Department, Trent University and Harkness Laboratory of Fisheries Research & Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Since 2001, the focus of this research has been the ecology and management of riverine fishes. During this period, project work has included COSEWIC status reviews of riverine fishes at risk, and research on the impacts of dams and habitat fragmentation on riverine fishes, ecology and monitoring of Ontario fish species-at-risk, and impact assessment and management of pipeline water crossing construction. Much of this work has been completed in collaboration with scientists from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
Reid, S.M, C.C. Wilson, N.E. Mandrak, and L.M. Carl. 2007 Population structure and genetic diversity of black redhorse (Moxostoma duquesnei) in a highly fragmented watershed. Conservation Genetics (In Press).
Reid, S.M., N. Jones and G. Yunker. 2007. Monitoring redside dace in Ontario streams: Evaluation of single pass electrofishing and rapid habitat assessment. North American Journal of Fisheries Management (In Press).
Reid, S.M., F. Ade, and S. Metikosh. 2004. Sediment entrainment during pipeline water crossing construction: Predictive models and crossing method comparison. Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science 3:81-88.
A Surface Water Quality Threats Assessment Method using Landscape-based Indexing
Robert Metcalfe, Bastian Schmidt and Richard Pyrce
Watershed Science Centre, Trent University
This research developed methods, data layers, models, and tools to estimate both baseflow characteristics and potential nutrient loading at ungauged sites using landscape indicators. This information is integrated into a water quality susceptibility index for the systematic screening of potential threats to surface water conditions across watersheds at the landscaper scale.
Associated GIS raster data (PSAI) is available upon request. Please contact us at 1.705.748.1011 x7940.
Design Standards for Improving Fish Habitat Management
G. Gillespie [A], L. Carl [A]&[B], R. Mackereth [C], L. Greig [D],
D. Ming [E], M. Boivin [F], and T. Allison [G].
[A] Watershed Science Centre, Trent University, Peterborough, ON
[B] Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, ON
[C] Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Thunder Bay, ON
[D] ESSA Technologies Ltd, Richmond Hill, ON
[E] Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Burlington, ON
[F] Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Peterborough, ON
[G] Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Burlington, ON
There is a high level of uncertainty associated with management decisions about development activities that impact fish communities and their habitat. Using hypothesis testing in an iterative and sequential manner, uncertainty about development impacts can be reduced at a variety of scales. Previous attempts at standardization may have focused too closely on the development of universal data standards rather than on hypotheses to be tested and the relevance of collected data to the agencies asked to adopt the standards. This approach assumes that universal data standards will be determined, accepted, and used regardless of site or situation-specific circumstances that may undermine variables' relevance to the site of question. Instead of enforcing universal data standards for all project types, science and management needs are more likely to be met if design standards are developed first, determining what information is needed in specific circumstances to address an issue. This approach is the basis of the "Design Standards for Improving Fish Habitat Workshop" where standard monitoring studies for use in the evaluation of mitigation and compensation measures commonly implemented in projects reviewed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will be developed and tested.
Low Flow Information for the Province of Ontario
Richard Pyrce, Watershed Science Centre
Interest in low flow discharges in many of Ontario’s rivers has become an increasing concern, as Ontario has experienced lower than average precipitation and low water levels since 1998. Many Conservation Authorities have low flow information on their websites, and the Province of Ontario has developed an Ontario Low Water Response (July 2003).
Today, much more data is available including longer station records, thus increasing the reliability and accuracy of low flow statistics for the Province of Ontario. This allows practitioners to make more informed choices, and regulatory agencies to better analyse low flow needs for understanding hydrological trends for water taking and waste assimilation, ecological sustainability, and the geomorphic stability of streams. Low flow work completed includes a comprehensive review of low flow indices used globally. Commonly used indices (e.g. 7Q10; a 7-day low flow with a 10-year recurrence period) and more specialized or unique indicators (e.g. 4Q3, 30Q2) are repeatedly used in low flow analysis. Part of the challenge is to determine the appropriate use of specific indices regarding instream (environmental) flows, low flow (chronic) criteria for aquatic life, and establishing the baseflow contribution to streams. An appendix to the low flow report explores the idea of using baseflow as an instream flow.
Hydrological Low Flow Indices and their Uses (PDF)
Considering Baseflow as a Low Flow or Instream Flow (PDF)
Network Design Study for the Ontario Stream Gauge Rehabilitation Project
Richard Pyrce, Watershed Science Centre
The Watershed Science Centre assisted the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources with investigating the background and analysing methods of stream gauge network design. Stream gauges are essential for the successful planning of Ontario watersheds and are needed to determine flood risk and assess climate change, among many other uses. During the 1990’s however, provincial budget restrictions meant that some gauging stations were mothballed or decommissioned. Starting in 2001, Conservation Authorities and district offices of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of the Environment were asked to provide suggestions for upgrades and new gauging stations for the Ontario network.
Initial approaches to design stream gauge networks leaned heavily on the experiences of field operators. Quantitative methods provided more rigorous statistical means to examine and assess gauging networks. More recently, stream gauge network designs have used audits or ranking/prioritization approaches of surveying users and practitioners of stream gauge data to determine station priority and importance to a network. Three cases studies were examined to investigate stream gauge network design. The Grand River watershed (6855 km2) in Ontario effectively combined Water Survey of Canada gauges with Grand River Conservation Authority stations to provide comprehensive real-time coverage of the entire watershed. The Pembina Valley watershed (8474 km2) in Manitoba suffered significant Federal and Provincial gauging station reductions, however a combination of continuous and seasonal discharge and stage measurement stations provide good coverage for the catchment. A rationalization of 828 gauging stations in the Province of Ontario (Dillon Consulting Limited, 1996) ranked stations as either primary, secondary, or tertiary. Tertiary stations were recommended to be cut from the network if the rationalization was implemented. The Dillon (1996) evaluation method was used to assess upgrades for the current Ontario network. Gauging station information is moving towards real-time access to users, which is vital for a variety of short-term (e.g., flood forecasting), medium-term (e.g., development potential), and long-term (e.g., climate change) purposes.