Hydrometric data and information service standards: chapter 2


2.0 The National Hydrological Service

The National Hydrological Service (NHS) is overseen by the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) within the Department of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). The NHS monitors the water level and water flow of rivers and lakes across Canada and provides technical support and expert advice for international and domestic transboundary water management.

Monitoring of water levels and water flow also known as hydrometric monitoring is conducted through a partnership with provinces and territories. Since 1975, the federal, provincial and territorial governments have established bilateral hydrometric agreements to co-manage the funding and provision of water quantity monitoring services on a cost-shared basis under the authority of the Canada Water Act. The hydrometric agreements set out the requirements of the hydrometric monitoring program within each province and territory, when combined together this is referred to as the National Hydrometric Program (NHP).

The Water Survey of Canada (WSC) is the operational branch within the NHS responsible for conducting hydrometric monitoring activities in support of the NHP.

The NHS is one of the main operators of the NHP, operating approximately 2200 of the 2800 hydrometric stations across Canada. The NHS also maintains a database containing historic data from approximately 5600 inactive stations across the country.

Operating activities include: 

  1. measurement of hydrometric data (primarily water levels);
  2. hydrometric data analysis (primarily to estimate discharge); and
  3. publication of hydrometric data and information.

Additional supporting activities include development of standard operating procedures, technology Research & Developmentand network analysis and planning.

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