Stu­dent recre­ates Spencer Creek flood­ing with 2D sim­u­la­tion

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - ROSIE-ANN GROVER rgrover@thes­ 905-526-3404 | @RosieSpec

If you knew a flood was com­ing — and you could pre­dict the wa­ter level and dam­ages — your evac­u­a­tion and re­sponse would be dra­mat­i­cally im­proved.

Such a tool might have helped the Dun­das com­mu­nity back in April, when a month’s worth of rain fell in a sin­gle day. The flood­ing at Spencer Creek caused mil­lions of dol­lars in dam­age and trans­formed streets into gush­ing rapids and mud­slides.

Us­ing 2D sim­u­la­tion, an engi­neer­ing stu­dent from the Univer­sity of Med­jez El Bab in Tu­nisia has joined in on the work al­ready be­ing done at the Univer­sity of Guelph to make those types of pre­dic­tions pos­si­ble. And they’re us­ing Dun­das as a case study.

“I am try­ing to sim­u­late real and staged flood­ing events in order to create in­un­da­tion maps,” said Houssem Hmaidi, who wrapped up his field work on Fri­day af­ter 12 weeks.

“We will be able to de­fine warn­ing ar­eas and fore­cast­ing wa­ter lev­els for flood in­ci­dent man­age­ment,” he said. “Even­tu­ally, this will im­prove fu­ture evac­u­a­tion and re­sponse plans.”

Hmaidi is work­ing with a hy­dro­log­i­cal model called HEC-RAS (Hy­dro­logic Engi­neer­ing Cen­ter’s River Anal­y­sis Sys­tem), he says was de­vel­oped by the United States Army Corps of En­gi­neers.

“I am fo­cus­ing on the 2D as­pect of this model be­cause it is more suit­able for ur­ban­ized ar­eas where hu­man habi­ta­tion and de­vel­op­ment af­fect flood pat­terns,” he said.

The flood maps he cre­ates can also pre­dict how much time it will take for the wa­ter to reach those ar­eas, and the time needed for the wa­ter to re­cede back to the river. “It can also give us an idea on the es­ti­mated loss due to this dis­as­ter,” he said, cit­ing land and in­fra­struc­ture.

Hmaidi is one of 500 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents con­duct­ing re­search at 45 Cana­dian uni­ver­si­ties through a sum­mer in­tern­ship pro­gram called Mi­tacs Glob­alink.

Hmaidi worked un­der the guid­ance of Guelph pro­fes­sor An­drew Binns to help fur­ther de­velop the 2D sim­u­la­tions in Dun­das.

“We know that this re­gion is sen­si­tive to flood­ing. And like any place where there’s been a lot of land-use changes and de­vel­op­ment, the stress of these changes can af­fect how the land might re­act to ex­treme flood­ing,” said Binns.

“But when we can de­velop pre­dic­tive tools to un­der­stand how an area like this might flood, we can help city plan­ners, en­gi­neers, and even lo­cal ecol­o­gists to mit­i­gate the ef­fects on ur­ban ar­eas.”


Spencer Creek in Dun­das show­ing the ef­fects of heavy April rains.

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