Flood FAQs - NVCA

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​Flood FAQs

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Flood Status


Who do I call if I have an urgent flood situation?

If you have an urgent flooding concern, please contact your municipality. If you are unable to reach someone, please contact our Flood Duty Officer at 705-717-7589 or 705-309-0410 and we will attempt to contact the municipality on your behalf.

Emergencies should always be called in to 911 service, or to the appropriate emergency service number for your location.

How do I learn if a flood warning has been issued?

To find out if a flood message has been issued please consult the following:
  1. Radio, television and daily newspapers (both in print and online) will air flood messages.

  2. Check the NVCA's website for the flood status icon. Check back often as messages can change without notice.

  3. Visit the NVCA on Facebook or Twitter.
  4. Dial the Authority flood information line - call 705-424-1479 and select option 1.

  5. Contact your local municipality.

Do insurance companies cover losses due to water damage?

Yes. However, coverage is usually limited to damage arising from sudden and accidental escape of water from an indoor plumbing, heating, sprinkler or air-conditioning system, or from a "domestic appliance" (which includes water heaters, waterbeds, washing machines and swimming pools) on your premises, or from a water main. Coverage usually excludes damage arising from 1) floodwater - such as that from an overflowing river; 2) repeated or continuous water seepage (from a cracked basement wall or an un-repaired pipe for example); 3) the backing up of water from a sewer, sump or septic tank; 4) leaky gutters and downspouts. Optional coverage for some of these perils may be available. 

Source: The Insurance Bureau of Canada

What do I do about high lake water levels impacting my property?

If you are considering doing shoreline protection work, you must apply for a permit from the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority before starting any work.

In most circumstances, you will need to consult with a coastal engineer to evaluate what you are planning to do.

Note that the NVCA is only an approval agency, and it is the responsibility of the land owner to construct and maintain shorewalls.

Why are we experiencing high lake water levels?
The high lake water levels are mostly from the weather conditions over the last few months. Strong northwest winds are also pushing the water onto the shore.

Fortunately, for the residents along the Georgian Bay shoreline, water levels have begun to drop several centimetres from their recent peaks and the forecast is for continued gradual decline through the rest of the year.

Here is some more information from Conservation Ontario about why the Great Lakes fluctuate and the permitting process is important.

When do I need a permit when doing shoreline work?

A permit is always required prior to doing shoreline work in the NVCA regulated area. To find out if your property is in our regulated area, check our Interactive Property Map.

Why do I need a permit?

The permitting process allows NVCA to:

  • prevent injuries and loss of life;
  • minimize property damage and restoration costs;
  • protect adjacent and downstream properties against harm caused by upstream development;
  • reduce the costs, both public and private, of emergency operations and evacuations;
  • minimize the hazards associated with development in floodplains and areas that are susceptible to erosion, which in future years may require expensive protective measures; and
  • protect the natural benefits offered by wetlands, watercourses and shorelines.


How do I determine if a permit is needed?

If you want to do shoreline work and if your property is in the NVCA regulated area, a permit is required.

To find out if your property is in our regulated area, check out Interactive Property Map

Not sure if your property is in a regulated area? Complete our online property inquiry form to find out more about your specific situation. You can also call or visit the NVCA office during regular business hours.

What type of permit is required to do shoreline work?

A Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses Permit is required to do shoreline work.

In most instances, you will need to consult with a coastal engineer to draft a shoreline study of what you are planning to do. NVCA staff is also available to do pre-consultation.

To apply for a permit, visit our Permit Frequently Asked Questions page

When can I expect to get my permit?

Permit applications are processed in a first come first serve basis. Our service timelines are governed by the Conservation Authority Liaison Committee. The NVCA is required to complete a policy review within 21 business days, and complete a technical review within 90 business days.

Make sure you submit all of the required documents to ensure timely processing.

How can I get more information about natural hazards?​​

Understanding Natural Hazards​ is a publication prepared by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources about addressing natural hazards along the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River System.

More information about the permitting process

For more information about how to obtain a permit or our permitting process, please visit our FAQs about the Permit Process page

What can I do about log-jams and other major debris in the watercourse?

​REMEMBER - During high water events, rivers are moving fast and currents can be very strong, making for dangerous conditions. Don't put yourself in harm's way to remove debris – call for help.

Log-jams and other debris can cause water to pond or flood upstream. 

If you think a log-jam or debris needs to be removed to protect your property, you must contact the appropriate organization before beginning any work:

  • If debris is on municipal property, like a road right-of-way, municipal ditch or blocking a municipal culvert, contact​ your municipality.

  • If debris is on your property, then you are responsible for the removing it.
       Contact NVCA before you start. We'll provide guidance on what you can and cannot remove, and let you know if you need a permit (depending on the extent of work). 
       If the debris is posing an immediate threat to your personal safety or your property, NVCA may issue emergency permits.

  • If debris is on a neighbouring property, you need to talk to them about having it removed.
      If you are not sure who owns the property, or if the debris is causing water to flood and posing an immediate threat to your personal safety or your property, contact your municipality. 
       They may be able to provide advice on how to reach your neighbour for non-urgent situations, and in emergency situations the municipality may assist you in taking action to safely get the debris removed.

  • If you are concerned about chemical or other spills into a waterway, contact the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Park's Spills Hotline at 1-800-268-6060.

Whose property is it?

While the NVCA regulates development along the waterways and in wetlands, we typically don't "own" the river, creek, stream or creek in question. Most often these areas are owned by private landowners, and sometimes by the municipality. 

Removing log-jams and other debris is the responsibility of the property owner.


Do I have to remove a log-jam?

While we can usually all agree that remove garbage and other similar debris from a waterway is a good idea, there are pros and cons to removing log-jams.

Some have been in place for a long time, and the ponds they've created offer habitat for fish and wildlife. On the other hand, some log-jams can cause water to flood and thus poses a threat to life and property. 

NVCA staff are happy to talk to you about log-jams near your property, and help you determine the best course of action.

Why don't insurers generally offer flood insurance?

In Canada, home insurance policies generally do not cover damage caused by water overflowing the banks of rivers or streams, or shores of lakes and oceans. 

Most areas that can be flooded eventually will be. Insurance is there to compensate you financially for losses that are random and unexpected. If you live on a floodplain, there's very little unexpected about flooding. Typically such losses occur at fairly regular, and in some parts of Canada, fairly frequent intervals. Flood insurance would be of interest only to a relatively small population of people living in areas prone to flooding, thus defeating the basic principle of insurance that the premiums of many people pay for the losses of a few.

Insurance companies are unable to implement adequate loss prevention measures in order to limit their exposure to flood risks. Loss prevention measures would include preventing construction in flood plains, and upgrading dykes, flood control dams, channels and sewer systems - all representing infrastructure enhancements/developments which are within the governments' jurisdiction, not insurance companies.

In certain parts of the country, limited flood-damage coverage may be offered, but at relatively high rates and only if purchased year-round. "Comprehensive" coverage in an automobile policy may cover the relatively slight risk of damage by rising water, because vehicles can often be moved to higher ground, out of harms way.              

Source: The Insurance Bureau of Canada

What are some of the impacts of flooding?

Flooding can have significant impacts on both people and property:

  • People may be cut off from emergency services, such as fire and police
  • People's lives can be in serious danger
  • Structures and buildings may fail
  • Hazardous substances can be released to the environment
  • The emotional toll on people can be heavy
  • The economy of a region can suffer

What are some of the insurance costs for natural hazards in Canada?

  • January 1998, Ice storm, Quebec and Eastern Ontario, $1.44 billion
  • September 1991, Hail, Calgary, Alberta, $343 million
  • July 1996, Flooding, Saguenay, Quebec, $165 million
  • July 1987, Tornado, Edmonton, Alberta, $148 million
  • July 1996, Flood and Hail, Winnipeg, Manitoba, $147 million
  • July 1996, Hail, Calgary, Alberta, $119 million
  • July 1996, Hail, Calgary, Alberta, $85 million
  • May 1985, Tornado, Barrie, Ontario, $84 million
  • November 1996, Flooding, Montreal and Quebec City, Quebec, $76 million
  • July 1995, Storm, Southern Ontario, $53 million
  • January, 1999, Winter storm Toronto, Ontario, $50 million*

The figures above represent only part of the bill. The costs to government, taxpayers and the uninsured are not included. And, of course, there's no way to put a price on the loss of life and human suffering.

*estimate based on survey of insurers

Source: The Insurance Bureau of Canada Insured losses

What can I do before and after a flood?

If my property is being flooded, or I have noticed a large ice-jam in the river, who can I call to find out information and who can I call if I need assistance?

While residents have an obligation to safeguard themselves as much as possible, there are a number of organizations you can call on for help, depending on the situation.

  • Personal emergencies involving fires or health, for example, can be referred to your local police, fire or ambulance department (911 service).
  • If you have concerns regarding ice jams or other flooding situations, you can call your local municipality, or the Conservation Authority may contact the county or municipality on your behalf.

For information on what to do before, during and after a flood, visit the Government of Canada's "Get Prepared" website at http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/hzd/flds-en.aspx.

How does the Nottawasaga Valley drain after a snow/rain event?

Characteristics of the Nottawasaga Watershed for a Widespread Rainfall/Snowmelt Event

Heavy rain or snowmelt floods the river systems in the south half of the watershed, which eventually drains through the Minesing Wetlands prior to entering the lower reach of the Nottawasaga River upstream of Wasaga Beach. The Wetlands is like a huge sponge which fills with vast quantities of water and releases it at a much slower rate.

In the upper reaches of the Nottawasaga River, a flood peak (highest point in the flood) can pass by a location very quickly - whereas downstream of the wetlands it can take weeks. The shape of the peak in the upper portions is sharp and is reduced and broadened before entering Wasaga. As many homes, roads and cottages are present in the floodplain in Wasaga Beach, without the beneficial and moderating impact of Minesing Wetlands, the annual damage in the Beach might be quite costly.

The water fills Minesing Wetlands for two reasons:

  1. The wetlands is a vast, flat area, where floodwater in excess of the channel capacity can spread out to great distances. River levees have built up on the Nottawasaga River and are much higher than the flat overbank areas. These levees are overtopped and floodwater spills into the wide overbank areas and are stored. The levees prevent the water from coming back into the channel.

  2. At the end of the wetlands is a feature called the Edenvale Moraine, which is like the stopper in your bathtub. It is quite small compared to the floodplain in the wetland, and acts as the bottleneck to the entire system.

Who plays a role in flood warnings?

Along with the NVCA, the following groups play important roles in flood conditions.

Ontario Provincial Police through the District Headquarters in Orillia operates a communications link with municipal officials and enforcement departments which complements the system operated by the NVCA. During a flood emergency, the OPP is responsible for carrying out rescue operations, obtaining necessary medical aid and maintaining law and order within affected areas.

Local media operating within the NVCA's jurisdiction provide the primary means of relaying flood related information to affected residents.

The Ministry of Natural Resources maintains the provincial streamflow forecast centre in Peterborough, which advises the NVCA of potential storm-producing weather patterns that may affect watershed flooding conditions. Through the local Flood Response Coordinator (Midhurst District Manager for the Nottawasaga Watershed), the Ministry directs and delivers the provincial response to a municipal request for assistance, when a flood emergency has escalated beyond the capabilities of local resources.

Municipal Officials are initially responsible for the welfare and protection of their residents from floods. It is crucial that each municipality establish an all risk emergency plan with specific reference to flooding, compatible with those of other agencies, which will assist officials with the orderly implementation of local resources. NVCA assistance in the development of the flooding component of such plans will be available upon request.

Municipal Residents have an obligation to safeguard themselves and their belongings to the best of their abilities after being duly warned of flood danger. Residents should prepare their own flood emergency plan including an evacuation plan and should know where the flood susceptible areas in their region are located. Residents are responsible for obeying municipal and other agencies warnings, instructions and directions as they are received.

How does the Authority forecast a flood?

Authority staff perform a "Daily Planning Cycle" for flood forecasting and warning. Information on predicted weather is collected from various sources (Internet, Environment Canada, MNR Streamflow Forecast Centre) and compared to current watershed conditions. The cycle provides base information for staff on the conditions of the watershed.

Data is collected from a stream flow stations monitoring network using a specialized software program. This program telephones the gauges, downloads stream level, rainfall or temperature data, and processes and stores the data in a database. The level information is used to calculate the current flow within the watercourse using level/flow relationships (rating curves). The flow value is then compared with historic flow records to determine the current status of the watershed with respect to flood or low water applications.