COMAP, the Computer Systems Group at the University of Waterloo and Greenland International Consulting will advance understanding of the individual and cumulative contribution of multiple processes within a watershed environment using predictive modeling techniques. These models simulate processes such as water balance, hydrology, soil loss, population, type and density of aquatic plant-life, nutrient, sediment and fecal coliform loading and transport. Such modeling can then be used to predict responses under different scenarios related to current land use, planned land development or extreme weather events such as occurred in Toronto, Burlington, Muskoka and Haliburton, and Southern Alberta. Being able to anticipate and plan for extreme weather events is not only of value to local and provincial governments but for the insurance industry, which has been struggling under the increasing claims that result from extreme weather events in Europe, the US and Canada.
Such models require access to large amounts of base data related to the area being modeled including: fish populations, type and density of aquatic plant life, catchment and stream delineation, digital elevation, soil characteristics, weather station locations and records, land use, stream flow monitoring data and measured water quality data. The data just described is used both as input to models and to calibrate the models to ensure that the output is credible.
Powerful modeling software exists for many situations, but the data although existing in many cases, is scattered among multiple jurisdictions. For example, data in any province could be held by Federal Departments, Provincial Ministries, conservation authorities, political regions, NGOs or consultants. Individual university researchers may also hold data that is never made available or published. Because the data is not accessible from a single source it becomes extremely costly to assemble, thus preventing the wider use of predictive simulation tools. Such a lack of predictive capability can lead to significant environmental or infrastructure damage or loss of life because of the consequences of predictable or unforeseen events whose magnitude could be anticipated.
What is needed is a central environmental data and software platform operating as a cloud that is accessible over a high speed network. This platform will not only contain data and software but could be connected to field personnel and sensor networks that can deliver data through both satellite and land-based communications.
The modeling techniques being proposed can also be considered as next generation technologies. The leading partners in the project are Canadian businesses and Universities with the support of the municipal and provincial government agencies and NGOs such as conservation authorities. With the support of Communitech, the WatershedAtlas partnership has created a cloud-based version of the Greenland CANadian Water- shed Evaluation Tool (CANWET5TM) predictive watershed modelling software. The next system called the Integrated Science and Watershed Management System (ISWMSTM) will integrate CANWET5TM with Greenland's Integrated Stormwater Management and Flood Forecasting tool. ISWMSTM will incorporate a cumulative effects assessment system.
We will also explore opportunities to add the functionality and data of the Flowing Water Information System (FWIS) and the Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network (OBBN). FWIS is a joint project of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ontario’s Conservation Authorities, COMAP (currently the FWIS custodian) and the University of Waterloo Computer Systems Group.
Our mission: to understand watershed behaviour and understand the collaborative governance of watersheds to achieve sustainable water quality, water quantity and ecosystems, under conditions of climate change, land use change and pollution.
A dynamic shared platform is needed that integrates evolving watershed data with watershed models to predict watershed behaviours that are, in turn, assessed using water quantity and quality and biological monitoring data. The integrated platform should support open and big data, modeling, monitoring assessment and cumulative effects assessment for adaptive management by governments. Governments will use the platform adaptively to work to achieve sustainable water quality, water quantity and ecosystems, under conditions of climate change, land use change and pollution in the context of the expressed interests of real estate, resource and infrastructure development proponents, finance and insurance industries, agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries and citizenry.
The integrated platform will serve information technology for watershed modeling, cumulative effects assessment, monitoring and monitoring assessment, instream biological health assessment, climate change impact analysis, snow melt prediction, nutrient transport, nutrient trading, land use change impact analysis, best agricultural practice analysis, stormwater management, flood risk and control, low impact development, municipal infrastructure evaluation, wastewater treatment evaluation, adaptive management and governance.