The responsibility for dealing with flood emergencies in Ontario is shared by Municipalities, Conservation Authorities and the Ministry of Natural Resources on behalf of the Province. As with all emergencies, municipalities have the primary responsibility for the welfare of residents and are required to incorporate flood emergency response into municipal emergency planning. Conservation Authorities are primarily responsible for operating a forecasting and warning system and for monitoring and advising municipalities with respect to flood conditions. The Ministry of Natural Resources coordinates the provincial response in support of municipal action and supports the Conservation Authority's flood forecasting programs.
Conservation Authorities have several areas of responsibility for flood emergencies:
- Monitor watershed and weather conditions and operate a flood forecasting system to provide warning of anticipated or actual flood conditions.
- Issue Flood Alert and Flood Warning bulletins to municipalities and other appropriate agencies to advise of the potential for flooding.
- Operate Conservation Authority dams and flood control structures to reduce the effects of flooding.
- Provide advice to municipalities in preventing or reducing the effects of flooding.
- Maintain communications with municipalities and the Ministry of Natural Resources during a flood event.
Conservation Halton monitors, on an ongoing basis, weather forecasts and watershed conditions and uses this information to assess the potential for flooding. When spring melt or severe storms are anticipated Conservation Halton estimates the severity, location and timing of possible flooding and provides these forecasts to local agencies.
Change in Flood Terminology in 2012
Conservation Halton using new terminology in flood and water safety messages effective February 21, 2012. The change to the flood message terminology used by Conservation Authorities and the Ministry of Natural Resources is being done in order to create better consistency and align with other weather agencies such as Environment Canada and the Weather Network.
The following is the flood and water safety message terminology now being used by Conservation Halton, with the previous terms in brackets.
- Normal (stays the same): Conditions are within normal limits. No flooding is expected.
- Watershed Conditions Statement (Previously High Water Safety Bulletin): a general notice of weather conditions that could pose a risk to personal safety or which have the potential to lead to flooding. There are two variations of these:
- Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety: High flows, unsafe banks, melting ice or other factors could be dangerous for recreational users such as anglers, canoeists, hikers, children, pets, etc. Flooding is not expected.
- Watershed Conditions Statement – Flood Outlook: Early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high wind or other conditions that could lead to high runoff, cause ice jams, lakeshore flooding or erosion.
- Flood Watch (Previously Flood Advisory): Flooding is possible in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities, emergency services and individual landowners in flood-prone areas should prepare.
- Flood Warning (No change): Flooding is imminent or already occurring in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities and individuals should take action to deal with flood conditions. This may include road closures and evacuations.
Flood Forecasting and Warning Links:
Current Flood Conditions
Current Weather Conditions
Canadian Hydrographic Service
The Weather Office
Water Survey Canada
For more information contact Conservation Halton at 905-336-1158