Dams and Channels

Water Control Infrastructure in the Conservation Halton Watershed

Conservation Halton is responsible for the maintenance and operation of four major dams and 12.5 kilometres of flood control channels to protect the community and reduce the risk of property damage and loss of life due to flooding (a natural hazard).

The dams are all designed to control flooding as well as augment stream flows during periods of low water in areas downstream. The flood control channels were constructed to carry and in some cases divert floodwaters away from historically developed flood-prone areas.

 Conservation Halton Dams and Channels

Dams

Conservation Halton’s dams, along with many of the major dams within other conservation authorities across the GTA were built in direct response to the devastation associated with Hurricane Hazel (October 1954). Most of these facilities were constructed in the 1960’s and 1970’s, however none have been built since then as a more passive approach to hazard management, including land acquisition and regulation, were adopted instead of costly engineered structures.

There are three dams and reservoirs located within the Sixteen Mile Creek watershed. Scotch Block Reservoir is located upstream of Regional Road 25 within the Town of Halton Hills, on the middle branch of Sixteen Mile Creek and discharges downstream through the communities of Mansewood, Hornby and Drumquin. Hilton Falls and Kelso are located North and South of Highway 401 in Milton on the main branch of Sixteen Mile Creek and discharge downstream through the Town of Milton.

The fourth reservoir, Mountsberg, is located within the Bronte Creek Watershed, straddling the boundary between the City of Hamilton and Township of Puslinch, and discharges into Mountsberg Creek which outlets into Bronte Creek upstream of the village of Carlisle.

Kelso Dam & Reservoir

Kelso Dam was the first flood control dam constructed within the CH jurisdiction and was built in 1962. It works in conjunction with the Hilton Falls Dam and Reservoir, which was built in 1974, and is located just upstream, to provide flood control during spring melt, heavy rainfall and snowmelt events for the Town of Milton located downstream.

Kelso Dam provides low flow augmentation in summer months to support aquatic habitat in the downstream Sixteen Mile Creek. It also allows visitors to Kelso to enjoy recreational opportunities like swimming and non-motorized boating.

Hilton Falls Dam & Reservoir 

Hilton Falls DamThe Hilton Falls Dam and Reservoir upstream diversion structure was constructed in 1974, the last of Conservation Halton’s dams to be built. It operates in conjunction with the Kelso Reservoir to provide flood protection to downstream flood susceptible areas within the Town of Milton during spring melt, rainfall and snowmelt events.

Hilton Falls is also utilized to augment inflows to the Kelso reservoir during drier summer months by storing upstream runoff during the spring and releasing it at a predetermined minimum rate.

The level of flood protection during winter months when holding levels are lower is quite high however, level of flood protection is reduced during summer in light of the higher summer reservoir levels which effectively reduces available active flood storage.

Mountsberg Dam & Reservoir

Mountsberg DamThe Mountsberg Dam and Reservoir was constructed in 1966 and was the second flood control structure built by Conservation Halton. It is operated to provide flood protection to downstream flood susceptible areas within Lawson Trailer Park and the Town of Carlisle during spring melt, as well as rainfall and snowmelt events.

Mountsberg is also utilized to augment low flows in downstream Mountsberg Creek and the Bronte Creek system during drier summer months by storing upstream runoff during the spring and releasing at a predetermined minimum rate. The reservoir also provides recreational opportunities to the public including education programs at the Mountsberg Conservation Area, fishing and boating (non-motorized).

Scotch Block Dam & Reservoir

Scotch Block DamThe Scotch Block Dam and Reservoir was constructed in 1972. It is operated to provide flood protection to downstream flood susceptible areas within the villages of Mansewood and Hornby during spring melt, as well as rainfall and snowmelt events.

Scotch Block is also utilized to augment flows in Middle Sixteen Mile Creek during drier summer months by storing upstream runoff during the spring and releasing at a predetermined minimum rate.

The level of flood protection during winter months when holding levels are lower is quite high however, level of flood protection is reduced during summer in light of the higher summer reservoir levels which effectively reduces available active flood storage.

Flood Control Channels

Conservation Halton built three flood channels between the late 1960’s and 1970’s to safely move water through our communities and into Lake Ontario as quickly as possible. The three channels are Hager-Rambo in Burlington, Milton and Morrison-Wedgewood in Oakville. The channels are designed to move large flood flows which may result from rapid rainfall or a longer rain event away from historically developed flood sensitive / prone areas.

The way that we design modern communities to protect them from flooding has changed over time. Today, our developments provide more space for natural creeks to flow. Storm water ponds are also built within newer urban areas. This reflects a change from trying to move water through the system as quickly as possible, to trying to copy nature, allowing excess water to be stored and released more naturally over time after a rain event.

To ensure that the channels are able to move water efficiently, we try to maintain a clear concrete lined ‘drain’. For much of the year and sometimes for several years, these channels may appear dry, or have very small flows.

Hager-Rambo

The Hager-Rambo Flood Channel was completed in 1976 and is almost 4 km in length. It is intended to ease local flooding in residential areas within the City of Burlington. The Hager-Rambo diverts the flow of the upper Hager and Rambo Creeks west to Indian Creek before emptying into Lake Ontario.

Milton

The Milton Flood Channel was built in five phases, the last coming in 1979. It is 3 km in length and conveys flood waters of the Sixteen Mile Creek safely through the historic downtown area of the Town of Milton.

Morrison-Wedgewood 

The Morrison-Wedgewood Channel was the first flood channel built by Conservation Halton in 1967 in the Town of Oakville. It was added to in 1969. This channel is just over 4 kilometres long and diverts waters from residential areas north of the Queen Elizabeth Way, west to the Sixteen Mile Creek, and away from residential areas south of the QEW.