Research projects and reports related to the McIntosh Run Watershed and MRWA.

Topographic Analysis of McIntosh Run Watershed Trail Concept Plan

2013. Brent Bigford, Centre of Geographic Sciences

In order to purse the McIntosh Run Watershed Association’s (MRWA) mandate of promoting
public access and appreciation of the McIntosh Run Watershed, a system of non-motorized, back-
country, low-impact trails has been conceptualized for the public land (Crown and HRM) situated within
the watershed. This project aimed to further investigate the proposed trail system, specifically through
the lens of topographic analysis. Utilizing a LiDAR derived Digital Elevation Model (DEM), the proposed
trails were realigned to meet specific trail slope criteria and then examined for length, minimum and
maximum slope and elevation change to provide further insight into what each trail segment may look
like in reality. The project goals examined in this report are as follows:

  • Place concept plan on LiDAR derived DEM
  • Realign trails to meet slope requirements
  • Identify stream/drainage crossings
  • Create elevation profiles for each trail
  • Determine cost estimate based on realigned trail distance
  • Make some suggestions as to which trails should be constructed first (low cost/most users)



2016. Arthur Fitzpatrick, Department of Earth Sciences, Dalhousie University (Honours thesis supervised by L. Plug and C. Walls)


Many of the world’s watersheds are under pressure from land use change and urban sprawl, increasing potential flood risk. Measuring land use change over time in these watersheds helps in mitigating and/or predicting degradation and change of a river’s hydrologic function and freshwater habitat. For example, Nirupama and Simonovic (2006) used historical Landsat imagery to measure land use change around London, Ontario, and showed that urbanization correlated with an increase in the magnitude and number of annual flood peaks in the Thames River.

In this study, we seek to classify and quantify land use change over the past century within the McIntosh Run Watershed (located in Halifax Regional Municipality) using high-resolution historical air photos and satellite imagery. We classify land into six classes (forest, barrens, water, wetland, high density urban and low density urban), and establish a timeline of urbanization within the watershed. Since 1931, the watershed has transformed from a largely forested environment with some scattered agricultural use, to forest with no agriculture, and considerable low and high density urban development. These changes are predicted to have increased surface runoff, resulting in more pronounced and frequent flood peaks within the McIntosh Run river.

Full thesis for download (PDF)