Local Water Quantity in Canadian Rivers

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In 2013, higher-than-normal water quantity was more frequently observed in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Yukon than in other parts of Canada. The higher-than-normal water quantity across the Prairies reflects the influence of Alberta's super-flood in June 2013. Lower-than-normal water quantity was observed more frequently at monitoring stations in north-western Ontario, the Northwest Territories, and central British Columbia than in the rest of Canada.

Water quantity at monitoring stations, Canada, 2013

Map of Canada

Long description

The map shows the water quantity classification (low, normal or high) at Canadian monitoring stations in 2013 for both natural and regulated stations monitored on a yearly or seasonal basis.

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: The 2013 water quantity classification for a station is based on a comparison of the most frequently observed condition in that year with typical water quantity at that station between 1981 and 2010. The normal period for the Northern Quebec drainage region was 1971–2000, instead of 1981–2010, because of a data gap in that drainage region. Normal water quantities are specific to each region and do not refer to the same amount of water in each drainage region (e.g., normal water quantity on the Prairies is different from normal water quantity in the Maritimes). The results for this indicator vary slightly from those in the Regional Water Quantity in Canadian Rivers indicator because of differences in the methods used to calculate the indicator. For more information, please see the Data Sources and Methods document.
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada (2015) Water Survey of Canada, HYDAT Database.

Changes in temperature, and rainfall and snowfall cause water quantities in rivers to rise and fall throughout the year, sometimes resulting in flooding or water shortages. Where water quantity is classified as low, drought conditions likely exist. In Canada, droughts normally last for one or two seasons and can be very damaging. Sectors relying on water, such as agriculture, industry and municipalities are especially affected by long-term droughts. Droughts can also affect the water quality in lakes and rivers, and threaten fish survival and reproduction rates.

High water quantity at a water quantity monitoring station indicates a wet year, but does not mean flooding occurred. Floods tend to be short-lived, lasting on average about 10 days,Footnote [1] and may not change the water quantity classification in this indicator. For example, in 2013, Toronto, Ontario, experienced a flash flood in July, yet the overall rating for the year for that station was low.

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