A Flood of Information
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A Flood of Information

Map from TRCA’s flood monitoring web site.

Although March has been remarkably snow-free, Toronto and Region Conservation has still issued flood advisories as heavy rains swelled rivers throughout the city and wreaked havoc in the city’s low-lying valleys. What floody surprises will April hold? There’s no need to wait passively for weather forecasts and news releases. Thanks to TRCA, you can monitor river and dam levels throughout the GTA’s watersheds in near real-time.
The last time we visited TRCA’s river-monitoring web site (log in with the username “public” and password “public”), we were much more interested in the camera peering up the Don River near Pottery Road than in the other data available online. In the year since, the site—described by TRCA as “in active development” at the time—has undergone a few changes. Most noticeably, the clunky Java-based map from the old site, while still available, has been supplanted by a fancy and functional Google Maps mashup and a downloadable KML file for Google Earth users.
The new map clearly outlines the watersheds for all of the river systems that drain the city and contains unique identifiers for each individual river and tributary. Sadly missing from the site is the view from the river voyeur cam. The pole the camera was mounted on has been cut down and TRCA says that it’s being moved to a more suitable location.
As nice as the new map looks, the real river-geeky fun is in generating custom reports. You can, for example, look at the water levels of the Don River over any arbitrary time period, see what the current trend is, or determine which rainfall last month resulted in the highest river levels. You can even compare sensor readings at multiple locations over the course of a few hours to see how a water release at the G. Ross Lord Dam filters down the Don River to the lake. As we said last year, although none of this information is earth-shattering, it’s good to see more agencies openly sharing their internal data with the public.