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Precipitation Monitoring

UTRCA says it's close to implementing a reliable automated process to develop rainfall estimates.

LONDON - The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority is collaborating with Western University and Environment Canada to develop a new automated monitoring system for collecting rainfall data.

Senior Water Resources Engineer Mark Helsten says it will use the spatial accuracy of radar rainfall estimates from Environment Canada as well as the UTRCA's own rain gauge network, which gives accurate totals for a particular spot.

"What we are doing is looking at merging the two together in order to come up with a more detailed and accurate representation of how much it has rained in both space and in quantity."

Helsten says currently they get real time precipitation data from 20 rain gauges across the Thames watershed, but that does not always capture localized intense storms which could become more frequent in the future. "We have a responsibility to warn our member municipalities that there is a flood coming and there is different thresh holds of how much action has to be taken. Sometime it's just 'stay away from the water' and other times it could be as severe as we are estimating that in certain areas there might be evacuations required and so we want to get those out in a timely manner and this will help us make more accurate decisions."

Helsten says this is only something set up to work during the summer so it's not currently up and running. "I imagine that once we get into the next rain season starting in and around May, we will probably be in a good position to do that. There's still lots of work going on in the background to economize the system and to make sure that the bugs are starting to get worked out but like I say, into the spring I think we will start to see that in a more active manner in terms of real time."

Helsten says the data will be extremely useful for their flood forecasting and warning program as well as monitoring watershed health during droughts.

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