FINCH — South Nation Conservation just might have the right volunteer job for you — collecting precipitation data.
SNC has 20 free rain gauges to distribute throughout its 4,384 square-km jurisdiction extending from the Brockville area to Plantagenet and one of them could be yours to maintain, read and record.
The local watershed authority says it’s easy, not particularly time consuming, and rewarding.
“The more collection points across our jurisdiction, the more effective our data will be,” said Naomi Langlois-Anderson, SNC Senior Fish & Wildlife Technician.
“We are looking for dedicated volunteers to help improve our flood and drought forecasting and warning systems.”
The simple clear plastic gauges help in ongoing analyses of watershed conditions and in forecasting both flood and drought events along the South Nation River and its tributaries.
To supplement rainfall data gathered by SNC staff, a landowner volunteer network called “Weather Watch Rainfall Recorders” was created about a decade ago. SNC is now affiliated with CoCoRaHS Canada, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network which links volunteers who take daily precipitation measurements in their own yards.
The Weather Watch kit includes basic instructions, the gauge, and mounting hardware. Various CoCoRaHS training options and occasional seminars are also available.
It’s best install a gauge in an easily accessible location, away from trees or buildings that could influence precipitation patterns; it can be installed on a fence but the opening must be at the top. Care must be taken to prevent freezing inside the gauge, Langlois-Anderson explained.
Things have changed over 10 years. Data is now uploaded to a website where participants can see information from other gauges across Canada, the U.S. and Bermuda. There’s even a smart phone app that makes uploading daily readings a speedy process.
Currently, she said, several of SNC’s municipal partners are hosting a gauge which helps in the delivery of flood modelling and forecasting information.
“It facilitates flood advisories and possible road closures. Monitoring also signals when low precipitation triggers water conservation measures.”
Becoming a Rainfall Recorder is an easy way for residents to take a more active role in monitoring and managing their own natural environment, Langlois-Anderson concluded.