A water data station recently placed along Omand’s Creek is helping to gather water level and flow conditions of Manitoba’s water bodies.
The station, located near the foot of the Omand’s Creek bridge in the West End, was set up in mid-July and is one of 336 hydrometric gauging stations across Winnipeg and Manitoba collecting and distributing water information in real time to agencies across Canada and the general public.
The stations were installed in partnership between the Water Survey of Canada and Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation, guiding provincial flood forecasting and water operations.
"Water levels and flow rates are especially helpful in providing information necessary for proper operation and management of water control structures, like dams, reservoirs and floodways, and municipal water infrastructure," a provincial spokesman wrote in an email.
"Both historical and current water level and flow data are a part of information used in forecasting."
The data allows the province to create more accurate forecasts by giving them a clear picture of the behaviour of a watershed, the province said. Forecasts tell the province the water levels and flow rates at various locations in a river, a lake or reservoir.
"This information helps the province to operate water control systems in the best way possible and to minimize potential damage during flood events," the spokesman said.
Omand’s Creek flows from the RM of Rosser, winding its way around the airport, the St. James Industrial Park and Polo Park before emptying into the Assiniboine River in Wolseley.
The station there will operate as an eight-month discharge station, from March 1 to Oct. 31 annually. The plan is to have the station transmitting data to the Water Survey of Canada’s real-time website in October, said Christine Best, director of the survey.
The station is one of 2,500 active hydrometric gauges across Canada.
Around 80% of the stations were constructed to serve a specific water management purpose at a specific site, Best said. The other 20% document hydrological characteristics and processes required to understand the regional hydrology.
Over time, the data from many of these stations will be used to address numerous other water-related issues.
"The demand for real-time hydrometric data is growing," Best said. "Daily decisions involving the operation of dams, reservoirs and municipal water supplies depend on such real-time data."
But beyond that, issues such as climate change "require a knowledge of long-term hydrological trends that is gained only through the analysis of long-term data sets," Best said.
"The Reference Hydrometric Basin Network is a sub-set of the national network that has been identified for use in the detection, monitoring, and assessment of climate change. It is part of Canada’s contribution to the Global Climate Observing System."
The data being collected is also used by universities for research, and can be applied to water quality monitoring, water licensing, water treatment, aquatic life management and recreational purposes, the province said.
For more, visit http://www.ec.gc.ca/rhc-wsc.