4DM developing innovative river flow forecasting system for northern environments

A “made in Canada” solution is at hand for monitoring reservoir inflows, forecasting changing river conditions and, potentially, predicting floods in northern environments. 4DM Inc. is developing a web-based system to provide water managers with a tool for forecasting river flows.

Co-funded by LOOKNorth, a Canadian national Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research that fosters remote sensing innovation to support responsible development of northern resources, 4DM is conducting a project to bring together, within a turnkey system, satellite remote sensing data for snowpack information, numerical weather prediction data and in-situ sensor data as input for a distributed hydrological model (WATFLOOD). The hydrological model, WATFLOOD, was developed by the University of Waterloo and is currently used by Environment Canada, Manitoba Hydro, Ontario Power Generation, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and others in water resources sector. The process is being automated within a technology environment as an information service to decision makers involved in water management and analysis.

The project scope includes research, design, development, testing and implementation of the system within a Northern Ontario watershed. The system, HydrologiX II, will provide a five-day forecast for water managers on a daily basis. Initially created as a data service to support scheduling of operations for hydroelectric production, HydrologiX II can be used as an information source for water budgeting, environmental flow analysis, climate change monitoring and flood risk analysis for both gauged and ungauged watersheds. The system improves on current technology through automation, by providing easy access to information through web services and by incorporating information on current and future watershed conditions. HydrologiX II will enable better management of flows and levels along river systems, particularly at times of high inflow such as spring thaw, and will improve situation awareness of changing river conditions.

HydrologiX II is expected to be operational by June 2014, with operational beta-testing and ongoing enhancements continuing throughout the year.