Meander Belt Delineation Procedure: An evaluation of current practices in Southern Ontario

Meander belt delineation is required as part of planning and development policies and species at risk legislation. The ultimate goal of the delineation procedure is to reduce loss or damage of property, limit development encroachment, and protect natural areas or sensitive habitat along river systems. In partnership with Beacon Environmental Ltd., an environmental consulting company located in Guelph, Ontario, the goal of this research is to evaluate current practices of meander belt delineation in Southern Ontario. Although there is a very extensive literature on meander morphology, evolution and mechanics, very little of it is concerned with the prediction and variables controlling meander belt development. Current procedures for land planning and conservation utilize site-specific historical migration assessments or empirical equations developed from rivers outside Ontario, which differ, from geomorphic conditions and river types in southern Ontario. Consequently, the reliability of these procedures is in doubt. Using a sample of river reaches in the Credit River system, Ontario, the project will develop new empirical relations between belt width, and independent variables known to affect meander dynamics. The objective is to propose recommendations for modifications of existing meander belt delineation procedures.

Julia Howett
Faculty Supervisor: 
Peter Ashmore
Partner University: