The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) has declared minor low water conditions within the watershed.
RVCA Manager of Engineering Services, Brian Stratton, says the Rideau Valley Water Response Team met on June 8 to discuss the low water conditions within the watershed due to lack of precipitation in the last few months. According to a press release issued after the meeting, the average 90-day rainfall measured at climate stations surrounding the watershed is at about 60% of normal for this time of year. In the past 30 days, rainfall has been variable across the watershed with the average sitting at about 35% of normal. Looking ahead, the seven-day weather forecast also indicates minimal precipitation.
The press release notes that with stream flow values sitting at 20-30% of normal, field observations have indicated that ecological conditions are becoming stressed. Brian says the low water levels have the potential to impact aquatic habitats, golf courses that depend on smaller water bodies for irrigation, reservoir lakes which feed the Rideau Canal system and allow for recreational boating, municipal water supply for those that depend on surface water (Perth, Smiths Falls), and agricultural operations.
Brian notes that North Grenville’s water supply should not be affected as the town relies on a deep aquifer that isn’t affected by low precipitation. He says that people on private wells aren’t usually affected either, but anyone who experiences any adverse affects due to the low water conditions is encouraged to contact the RVCA. “Normally we don’t hear a lot of complaints, but we always put that offer out there just to help us better understand the situation.”
The RVCA is encouraging residents to conserve water by limiting non-essential uses (car washing, lawn watering) with the goal of achieving a consumption reduction of about 10%. While this has the potential to help to an extent, Brian says what the watershed really needs to return to optimal levels is precipitation. “It’s not going to fix the problem, but it’s something they can do,” he says. “We really need rain to make it better.”
According to the press release, RVCA staff are continuing to monitor conditions and communicate with water managers throughout the watershed. Updates will be issued as conditions change.