Far North Quaternary Watersheds Bassins hydrographiques quaternaires du Grand Nord

Data Format(s): ESRI File Geodatabase

Coordinate system: NAD83 / Ontario MNR Lambert (EPSG:3161)

‘Version 1.0’ of the Quaternary Watersheds for the Far North of Ontario. ABOUT THIS RELEASE: The Far North quaternary boundaries have been created based on ‘Version 2.0’ of the Ontario Integrated Hydrology Data (OIHD) product which will be released in spring, 2015. These boundaries are the first of their kind in the Far North of Ontario. Previously this area only contained coarse tertiary watershed boundaries created using less accurate federal data. These new watersheds will help support Community Based Land Use Planning (CBLUP) activities in the Far North, and help First Nations communities understand where water is flowing across the landscape in order to better protect natural features of cultural, historical and environmental significance. The creation of these boundaries followed newly established watershed principles adopted by International, Federal and Provincial partners involved in globally integrated water resources management. Partnering agencies include the following: • International Joint Commission (IJC) • Water Survey of Canada (WSC) / Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) • Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) • United States Geological Survey (USGS) • Other provincial and state-side authorities depending on region of focus. This data is considered “Interim” in nature and will eventually be incorporated into a new ‘Version 3’ official update of Ontario’s Provincial Watershed layers. There are several other enhancements planned for these structured datasets, and therefore, a release date has not yet been determined. However, the Far North quaternary packaged product has been produced for the interim to specifically address immediate Far North planning needs at the regional landscape level. The watersheds included in this package cover the entire area draining to the Hudson-James Bay basin within Ontario (excluding the Rainy River basin). The watershed creation process involved enhanced delineation and smoothing techniques to produce a final product that is consistent with the current regional hydrology available for Ontario. Watershed naming conventions have also been revised to be more closely in line with international naming standards established through the International Watersheds Initiative (IWI) led by IJC. A watershed, also known as a catchment basin or area, includes all the land that is drained by a watercourse and its tributaries. A quaternary watershed is a polygon feature that identifies one of the 1000+ subdivisions of the tertiary watershed divisions for all of Ontario. Watersheds created beyond the tertiary level will comply where possible with the USGS area-size criteria. Quaternary watersheds are comparable to the USGS (Hydrologic Unit Coding system) HUC-10 level watershed units in the United States, which have the recommended size range of 40000-250000 acres. A few exceptions apply where the landscape cannot be further subdivided or amalgamated into units which would fit within this acceptable range. These quaternary divisions were historically developed by the province (dating back to the 1970’s) before the involvement of IJC. Quaternary divisions were considered an extension of the federal 'Drainage Area' reporting framework originally known as the Water Resources Index Inventory Filing System (WRIIF), which only incorporated tertiary watersheds as the finest level nationally. The Water Survey of Canada (or, as it was known then, the Department of the Interior, Dominion Water Power Branch) first developed, in 1922, a Water Resources Index Inventory as a convenient and logical system for recording and filing water resources data. It was designed for the storage of such information as the location of waterpower sites, waterpower developments, storage reservoirs, stream measurement stations, and meteorological stations. The Water Survey of Canada delineations involved the division, sub-division and sub-sub-division of Canada into suitably sized areas based on the drainage, for administrative purposes. Although the boundaries are based on drainage, the intent was to include all of Canada's land mass and waters within this drainage area hierarchy to facilitate the identification of hydrometeorological sites. Therefore, the WSC drainage areas do not necessarily define individual river basins, but can represent intervening areas along the coast or include islands.' (National Scale Frameworks HYDROLOGY Version 5.0, NRCan, 2003) The horizontal positional accuracy of the boundaries is variable depending on the nature and spatial distribution of the raw DEM information, and thus cannot be validated without onsite investigation and verification. In general, southern Ontario is typically within 100m, north-central Ontario ('near north') is within 400m in the Ontario Base Map (OBM) Forestry Area of Undertaking, and the Far North is generally considered within 900m (currently, there is no statistical level of confidence available). The Far North was derived from 1:50K federal CanVec data, SPOT and Landsat Imagery, and 2000 Shuttle Radar DSM information.