High Temperatures and dry conditions throughout the Otonabee Region watershed have resulted in the declaration of a Level 2 Low Water Condition by the Otonabee Region Water Response Team.
Otonabee Conservation analyzes the condition of the watershed on a monthly basis; low water status is determined based on the available data including temperature, precipitation, and stream flow. At an August 11th meeting, the Otonabee Region Water Response Team reaffirmed the Level 2 drought that was first declared on July 7th. The Level 2 drought continues because both 1-month and 3-month rainfall receipts are below 60% of normal, with May/June/July as the fourth driest 3-month period since Confederation.
Sizzling hot air temperatures have also contributed to the Level 2 drought declaration, as July was 15% hotter than normal, including 13 days when the daytime high reached 30 degrees Celsius. The Region has not experienced that many July days when the temperature rose to 30 degrees or higher, since 1955.
The combination of prolonged hot and dry weather has also influenced conditions in local streams. For example, Jackson Creek’s average flow in May was 89% of normal, which then reduced to 50% in June, and a meagre 16% in July.
“July’s extremely low flows could possibly harm Jackson Creek ecosystems if relief in the form of sustained rainfall does not come soon,” states Otonabee Conservation’s Water Resources Technologist, Gordon Earle.
“We received two significant rainfalls on July 11th and August 2nd, and since then, several smaller, short bursts of rain, which have only provided cosmetic relief from drought conditions,” Earle explains further, “To break the current drought and bring soil moisture content, surface water levels/flows, and groundwater resources within normal range, we would need multiple soaking rainfall events over the entire Region and over many weeks. However, meteorologists are forecasting the same above-normal air temperatures and below-normal rainfall patterns and amounts for the remainder of this year.”
Under the Ontario Low Water Response Program, when a Level 2 Low Water Condition occurs, all water users are asked to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 20%. This includes municipalities, aggregate operations, golf courses, water bottlers, farm irrigation, and private users.
During these times, it is understandable and necessary to be using water for sanitizing, hand washing, and laundering, however, it is still possible to reduce water use by 20%. Here are some conservation tips reducing outdoor water usage:
Adhere to municipal watering restrictions that may apply.
Do not wash driveways or wash automobiles in driveways – use a broom / visit a car wash.
Cover swimming pools when not in use to reduce evaporation.
Water gardens wisely at the base of the plant and not on the leaves; avoid watering during the heat of the day when evaporation rates are highest.
Use soaker hoses in your garden that water the soil at the base of plants, also reducing evaporation.
Add mulch to gardens or use stored rainwater from a rain barrel.
Plant a ‘water wise’ garden with drought-resistant, native plants that require less / no watering.
For more ideas to conserve water, download the Water Conservation Fact Sheet from our website
The Otonabee Region Water Response Team, with representatives from local municipalities, water management agencies, the community, provincial and federal agencies, and Otonabee Conservation, will meet in the coming days to review the current situation. The Level 2 Low Water Condition, urging water conservation of 20%, will remain in effect until further notice.
More information on the Low Water Response Program is available on the Otonabee Conservation website at www.otonabeeconservation.com.