Quinte Conservation and the Low Water Response Team have declared a Level 3 Low Water Condition due to lack of rainfall and low flows in local rivers and streams. This is the most severe low water level. Quinte Conservation Water Resources Manager Christine McClure says, “We have received approximately 35% of average rainfall across the watershed in July. This means that some lake and river levels are visibly lower than they would normally be for this time of year. Flows in the Moira, Napanee and Salmon Rivers continue to be extremely low and we need a significant amount of rain to change that. The Water Response Team met Thursday morning and declared that we are now in a Level 3 Low Water Condition.”
A Level 3 Low Water Condition indicates a failure of the water supply to meet demand. Restrictions on water use may be imposed by municipalities or under the provincial Water Resources Act. Low water conditions are ranked as Level 1, 2 or 3 based on a prolonged period of low flows or precipitation. A Level 1 is the least severe and Level 3 is the most severe.
McClure explains, “We confirm low water conditions using two criteria – precipitation and stream flow. Both criteria are very low for this time of year and lower than we usually see at the end of summer or early fall. Some of our rivers are experiencing the lowest flows we have ever recorded for July.”
As part of the Level 3 Low Water Condition declaration Quinte Conservation will be communicating with its 18 municipalities and requesting that they ask their residents and businesses to reduce water usage by 50 per cent.
Long range forecasts indicate that the hot, dry weather will continue into the fall. Quinte Conservation says it’s now essential for residents, businesses and municipalities to conserve water. The environmental organization is asking residents and businesses in the region to reduce all water usage by 50 per cent until the supply is replenished. People on private wells should be especially careful of their water usage. Well owners should take steps to protect their well pump. A licensed contractor can be hired to check water levels and make sure the pump is working and protected against running dry.
Water levels are becoming dangerously low on the Skootamatta, Black, Salmon, and Napanee Rivers. This has prompted Quinte Conservation to operate dams in order to increase flows downstream. McClure explains, “We are attempting to maintain a minimal flow in the rivers to support local ecosystems. These dams have been identified as low flow augmentation structures and are being operated according to their individual operation plans. Residents above the dams we are operating will notice a decline in their water levels.”
The following dams were recently operated:
Operations may be conducted at Skootamatta Lake Dam if conditions warrant.
Quinte Conservation has stopped generating hydroelectric power at the McLeod Dam due to low flows in the Moira River. Extremely dry conditions in the Salmon River means that the seasonal weir at Kingsford Conservation Area was not installed.
The environmental organization is encouraging any individuals or businesses in the Quinte watersheds who experience problems or hardships, such as wells going dry, to contact Quinte Conservation by calling 613-968-3434 or 613-354-3312 and dialing extension 129. Reports can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. These reports will help the organization track the impacts of the Low Water Condition.
McClure says, “Reducing water use by half means that residents will have to take a hard look at how they are using their water. Many local people have already stopped watering their lawns in an effort to conserve water. Other large uses of water in the average home are toilets, showers, and laundry. Drinking water and food preparation only make up about five per cent of the water used in an average home.”
Quinte Conservation issued the first low water warning this year on June 2. The local environmental agency will continue to monitor precipitation and stream flows and provide updates. Tips on water conservation can be found on the Quinte Conservation website at www.quinteconservation.ca.
Quinte Conservation is the lead for the local Water Response Team (WRT) for all of Prince Edward County and the watersheds of the Moira, Napanee and Salmon Rivers. The team includes representation from municipalities, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, and local industry. The WRT is formed when the watershed is in a Level 1 condition. Water Response Teams monitor local conditions carefully and work with local water users to reduce demand and mitigate the effects of water shortages.
Quinte Conservation is a community-based environmental protection agency. It serves 18 municipalities in the watersheds of the Moira, Napanee and Salmon Rivers and Prince Edward County. It provides cost-effective environmental expertise and leadership. Quinte Conservation’s main goal is to create a sustainable ecosystem where people and nature live in harmony.