Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Down Came the Rain

I was all excited about the rain about 2 weeks ago when I posted this hydrograph from a local creek - you'll note that the stage (water surface elevation) nearly reaches 2 m. This after some clearly serious rain.



Here is a longer view of the water surface elevationin the same creek. Even though yesterdays rain didn't seem that heavy - clearly there was a lot of water dumped in this watershed - because the level peaked at over 2.5 m - which is a big deal for a little creek.

I almost didn't bother to go out because the rain didn't seem that great - in fact I was surprised at the amount of water streaming down my driveway given that it didn't seem to be raining that hard. I mean it was raining hard - just not the kind of sheets of rain that I would call a downpour. So, here is my little water resource lesson. Rain events are often plotted on an IDF curve - Intensity (how hard it rains in mm/unit time), Duration (the length of time that it rains) and Frequency (the statistical likiness of it raining that hard for that long - usually in terms of a return period). So, water resource engineers often talk about a 5 year storm or a 100 years storm when planning city works - particularly those related to storm water management and flood policy. So, a short light rain may occur several times a year, where a storm that dumps 50 mm/hr for 45 minutes might only happen - once every so many years. If I were going to build a big, expensive highway bridge - I might be interested in making sure that even a catastrophic storm event (the dreaded 100 yr storm say) would not cause my highway to fall into the river, on the other hand - I probably don't care if my baseball diamond gets a little soggy every spring - so I'm not going to spend a fortune to keep it dry. So that is the basics. What I don't know, and I wish I could find it - is how much rain fell here yesterday - because I'm going to say that it was a whole lot more than 11.2 mm. Hamilton did record almost 50 mm - but its a long way away and no one else has a value for yesterday yet. I think if I wasn't leaving - I might just install a rain gage for my own curiousity. There is a lot more rain on the way it looks like - which means less time spent watering the garden and more for blogging and packing....

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Water Supply Woes Whereever I Wander


It seems, with the notable exception of Fredericton, NB's grade A+ water, I can't seem to move to a location where there isn't a problem with the water supply. I happened to be living in Thunder Bay (pop. 125,000) when E. Coli levels in an aging resevoir on the west side of town (owing in part to contamination from a large goose population) resulted in about 50 % of residents being on a boil water order for over 6 months. Then I moved to Kashechewan, infamous for its ongoing drinking water issues (due to inadequate maintenace of sewage pond outflows, the water treatment plant and overall flaws in the design of the systems given the tidal nature of the Albany River, the presence of dam building beavers, and the actual population living in the town of Kashechewan (pop. 1500-2000) being double the capacity of the water treatment plant). Now I am moving to Baker Lake, and it appears that there are several concerns regarding the safety of the water supply. I understand from other articles that recent improvements have been made to prevent contamination to the lake from the dump during the spring flood. Today, I stumbled across an article on the CBC website citing concerns by the Hamlet's Mayor regarding historic fuel spills on the east part of the town. Although, there has not been contamination of the drinking water supply yet by the slowly moving plume of hydrocarbons, future problems are possible. It appears that these spills, like those in Attiwapiskat occurred when a federal agency was in charge of delivering fuel to the community. Sigh - that water resource engineering degree might come in handy afterall. I'm thinking that it might be fun to work a bit of groundwater hydraulics into one of the senior courses - as much as I really don't like the idea of my future water supply being at risk, I think it would be cool to turn it into a real-life, relevant teaching opportunity. So, I guess I'll add that to my list of lessons to design in my spare time.

The movers have come and gone and now there is just over a month before I leave. (YIKES!!!) The move went pretty smoothly - the guys were professional and efficient and the weather was perfect - sunny, calm and cool - so we carried out the process on the driveway which is way nicer than it would have been had there been stairs, doors, and furniture to work around. I finally found insulated rubber boots in my size at Canadian Tire - I suspect that there isn't much demand for serious warm wear for women, since everyone seems to have way better selection in mens gear - and I had to get my boots in boys sizes - but I think that is the last major thing I needed. I will need good winter boots, but no one carries them in June for some reason. Hopefully as I get closer to the fall they will start coming in... Its definately been an interesting experience moving up north - and I haven't even left yet. *mental musical interlude* Due North... thats the way I'm headed..... Due-ooh North
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