Floods are the most frequent natural hazard in Canada. And they can happen at any time of the year, not just in summer. Floods can also happen to anyone. Even if you’ve never experienced flooding before, it does not mean you won’t in the future.
Don’t wait until a flooding emergency happens to you… take the time now to understand your risk and prepare for a flood emergency.
According to the study, Canadian Voices on Changing Flood Risk, published in April 2017, 94% of people living in flood risk zones didn’t know they were at risk.
On this page, we will help you:
- Understand how to find out what your flood risk is
- Explain our role in flood protection
- Provide you with resources to help protect yourself from flood
Understanding your flood risk
Approximately 40% of the Lake Simcoe watershed is regulated by LSRCA. Regulated areas contain unique environmental significance or feature natural hazards for the watershed.
Regulated areas include flood prone areas but are much more than flood zones. They could also be land that is subject to erosion, or adjacent to streams or rivers, or wetlands, among a number of other reasons. Building and development in these areas is regulated by LSRCA to make sure the activity does not cause environmental damage to the watershed and keeps people and property safe.
Our online maps are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can use the maps to look up your property to see if it lies within a “regulated area”.
Access the regulation maps here.
Our role in flood protection is prevention
Our role is to protect people and property from flooding long before the rain begins. We work to prevent or minimize the impacts from floods by:
- Regulating development (building) in flood prone areas and other areas that protect us from flooding, such as wetlands.
- Maintaining a flood forecasting and warning system. We have a staff team that monitors watershed conditions, tracks weather, and issues flood alerts to local authorities (emergency services, municipalities, school boards, etc.). The purpose of this service is to reduce risk to life and damage to property by providing local agencies and the public with notice, information and advice so they can respond to potential flooding and flood emergencies.
What you can do to reduce the chances of being flooded?
Understand your insurance policy. Regardless of where you live, you should understand your insurance coverage. Are you covered in the event of flooding? What about sewage backup? Speak with your insurance company to understand what is and isn’t covered by your policy. Do not assume you’re covered in the event of a flood. It could be a very costly assumption!
Plan for an emergency. Everyone should have a 72 hour emergency kit on hand. Remember emergencies can happen for reasons other than flooding. The recommendation is that your emergency kit should contain enough supplies for yourself and your loved ones for at least 3 days.
Protect your property with flood-readiness fixes. Have you taken a look around your property to make sure it’s as flood proof as it can be? There are some property improvements you can make to help reduce the chances of damage from flooding.
Flooding Frequently Asked Questions
Who to call:
When should I contact customer service via email or phone at 1.800.465.0437 with a flood related concern?
Please call 911 for a flood emergency. For non-emergency reporting, you can reach out to Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority flood line via customer service at 1-905-895-1281 to report flooding or to report concerns/issues that may lead to flooding.
Please note that the flood phone line messages are not monitored 24-7. The Conservation Authority staff will respond as soon as possible, where appropriate.
The Conservation Authority is primarily responsible for operating a Flood Forecasting and Warning program, which involves issuing messages and providing advice to municipalities and agencies, when required. Its role is not emergency response or clean-up. If you are experiencing flooding (i.e., basement flooding), please contact your local municipality.
For local drainage issues please contact your local municipality.
Who is responsible for my flooding problem (due to debris, blocked culvert, etc.)? Will Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority come out to fix it?
The Conservation Authority is not responsible for fixing flooding or damage from flooding and does not physically come to fix the problem(s) on private property. The property owner is responsible for maintenance or removal on their lands. Please check with your local municipality or the Conservation Authority to ensure that applicable bylaws, approval and/or permits are followed /obtained. If access or works are required on lands owned by others, applicable Landowner Authorization will be required.
If the ice or snow needs to be removed, ice/snow removal on private property is the property owner’s responsibility. In case heavy machinery is to be used, for ice/snow removal, a Permit from the Conservation Authority may be required. Please check with the Conservation Authority Regulations Department for requirements.
Who owns the various dams in the Lake Simcoe watershed? Who oversees maintaining and controlling the dams?
Dams in the Lake Simcoe watershed are under different ownership depending on who owns the land. The Ontario Dam Inventory provides general information related to location and ownership (e.g., private, municipal, provincial, etc.). The owner of the dam is responsible for operation and maintenance of the structure.
If you are experiencing flooding, please contact your local municipality. For emergencies requiring police, fire, or ambulance, call 911.
There are trees which require maintenance (i.e., cutting down) on my property which may potentially fall into the watercourse and cause blockage. Who is responsible for the removal of a fallen tree or cutting it before it naturally falls?
The property owner is responsible for maintenance or removal on their lands. Depending on your local bylaws there may be some restrictions when it comes to the removal of live trees. Please check with your local municipality or the Conservation Authority to ensure that applicable bylaws, approval and/or permits are followed /obtained. If access or works are required on lands owned by others, applicable Landowner Authorization will be required.
The culvert needs to be replaced and/or the ditch/swale needs regrading. Who is responsible for these works/improvements?
These types of infrastructure are generally owned and maintained by the local municipality. If these structures are privately owned, then the owner is responsible.
To report a spill into a creek, river, or lake please call the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks – Spills Action Centre, at 416-325-3000 or toll-free 1-800-268-6060. Alternatively, report a spill using the online reporting tool.
What to do:
What do I do if I see sticks or branches (i.e., woody debris) in a river? What do I do if I see a blockage in the river and I am concerned about flooding?
Rivers are natural systems and sometimes branches or sticks will collect in place. This is a natural process and not something the be concerned about. If you see woody debris in a river, leave them in place. They help reduce erosion, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and are an important part of a river system’s natural processes.
If there is a significant blockage in a river that is causing flooding to your property, please call your local municipality. Municipalities have the primary responsibility for the welfare of residents during flood events.
Remember the rhyme: Turn around, don’t drown
Never drive or walk through a flooded road. When water rushes over a road, it can hide dips, debris, or missing sections of roads that have been completely washed away. You don’t know what hazards are hiding under the water. When it safe to do so, report the flooding to your municipality.
A floodplain is the area adjacent to a watercourse where flooding naturally occurs. Floodplains are regulated by the Conservation Authority. Please contact the Conservation Authority for additional information on floodplains.
Homes or buildings that are within the floodplain are typically older structures that were constructed prior to the conception of development regulations aimed at flood hazard management.
Our understanding of flood risk and our capability to map flood prone areas have evolved over the years. Development within the floodplain have been greatly restricted after Hurricane Hazel struck Southern Ontario in 1954 and left a devastating trail of destruction including the loss of many lives.
For questions about development near/within the floodplain please contact the Conservation Authority staff.
The Conservation Authority’s mapping is produced based on best available information at the time of development and is updated periodically. There may be areas that do not appear to reflect current conditions. If you notice any discrepancies, please help us improve our mapping by contacting the Conservation Authority.
Safety is the most important consideration. Always follow the directions of local emergency management officials. When it is safe to do so, take photos of any damage to your personal property (i.e., home, auto, property, etc.) and contact your insurance company/broker.
Lake Simcoe is part of a much larger system known as the Trent-Severn Waterway. The water levels in Lake Simcoe are managed by Parks Canada, the Federal Government, via the Trent-Severn Waterway. Please visit our Lake Simcoe Water Levels webpage for additional information.
Catchbasins are maintained by the municipality or private property owner.