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Water Levels and Flooding

The rivers and creeks in southern Ontario follow a typical seasonal flow pattern. During the winter, there are often brief periods of warmer temperatures. This can cause snow and ice to melt, increasing water levels and causing flooding. Rain that falls on snow or frozen ground can cause severe and widespread flooding. Melting snow and lots of rain in the spring may also cause high water levels and flooding. During the summer, localized thunderstorms are usually the cause of flooding. In the fall, intense rain from large storms is common and can also cause flooding. Remember that high water levels and flows can occur anytime of the year, so stay aware and stay safe.

Flooding can affect development near lakes, rivers, creeks, and streams.  Floods are the most common and costly type of natural disaster. Removing vegetation, altering shorelines, and increasing paved areas can cause more severe flooding.  Climate change can also cause extreme weather events, resulting in flooding more often.

Otonabee Conservation reduces the potential for damage and loss from flooding by:  

    1. Regulating development to keep it away from flood-prone areas.
    2. Protecting developed areas by building water control structures or diversions.
    3. Providing information to residents and municipalities about possible flooding.

Flood Forecasting and Warning

Our flood forecasting and warning program protects life and property from flooding. To do this, staff review available data and complete a flood risk analysis each day. If flooding is possible or expected, we issue a flood message. This information helps residents and municipalities get prepared.  You can view current and past flood messages on our website and social media platforms.

We issue different types of flood messages, depending on forecasted conditions:


Conditions are within normal limits and no flooding is expected.

  Normal conditions indicated in green  


High flows, unsafe banks, melting ice, or other factors could be dangerous. Flooding is not expected. Recreational users such as anglers, paddlers, hikers, and children should use caution.

  Water Safety Statement indicated in yellow  


Early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecast. Heavy rain, snow melt, or high winds could lead to increased runoff, ice jams, flooding, or erosion.

  Flood Outlook indicated in yellow  


Issued when flooding is possible in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities, emergency services, and individual landowners in flood-prone areas should prepare.

  Flood watch indicated in orange  


Issued when flooding is imminent or already occurring in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities and individuals should take actions which may include road closures and evacuations.

  Flood Warning indicated in red  


Preparing for Flooding

If you experience a flood emergency, dial 911 immediately!

To learn more about how you can be prepared for flooding, check out the following resources.

Monitoring Water Levels, Flow, Precipitation and Climate

Our monitoring network collects information about precipitation, water levels, and water flow. We also gather information climate information including air temperature, soil temperature, and soil moisture. We use this data for our Flood Forecasting and Warning and Low Water Response Programs. Use our interactive map to view precipitation and water levels.

Our monitoring network includes:

  • Five locations where we measure intensity, duration, and total amount of rainfall events
  • Three locations where we measure mixed precipitation receipts (snow, rain, and mixed precipitation)
  • Two locations where we measure snow depth and water content
  • Two locations where we measure soil moisture and soil temperature
  • Four locations where me measure air temperature

We also have access to other monitoring networks in our watershed region including:

  • Atmospheric chemistry and precipitation are measured by Environment and Climate Change Canada at Warsaw Caves Conservation Area
  • Air temperature, precipitation, wind speed, and direction are measured by Environment and Climate Change Canada at Peterborough Municipal Airport and Trent University
  • Six locations where the intensity, duration, and total amount of rainfall is measured by the City of Peterborough
  • Data collected by volunteer Citizen Scientists who measure the amount of rain, hail, or snow that falls in their community 

Contact Us

250 Milroy Drive
Peterborough, ON K9H 7M9
Voice: 705-745-5791
Fax: 705-745-7488

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