Water team issues low water advisory
Water Response Team issues Level 1 Low Water Advisory for entire Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority watershed
The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) Water Response Team (WRT) met on June 3, 2021 and declared a Level 1 Low Water Advisory for the entire ABCA watershed area.
The WRT based its decision on the three-month precipitation low-water indicator, which showed that all areas within the watershed were within the Level 1 indicator (below 80 per cent of the three-month normal). Rainfall totals over the last three months ranged from 53-79 per cent of normal. These values were anchored by a dry May, where rainfall was only 25-50 per cent of the monthly normal.
The decision was supported by very low spring streamflow and real-time flows that are well below the springtime low water indicator of 100 per cent of the lowest summer monthly average flow (August).
Despite receiving 5-15 millimetres (mm) of rain during the first week in June, ground conditions are quite dry, with almost no runoff since April.
Unless we see a return of consistently wet weather, streamflow and water supplies could see significant stresses as we enter into the warm summer months, according to Davin Heinbuck, Water Resources Coordinator at ABCA.
“Some areas will be reliant on water availability in streams to sustain crops through the summer,” he said. The focus should be on sustaining water availability now through responsible management and conservation of the water resource, he said.
Water Response Team Chair Doug Cook said everyone has a role to play in water conservation. He encourages all water users to look for ways they can conserve water and prevent further reduction in water levels and availability through this summer.
“In a Level 1 Low Water Advisory condition, we are encouraging water users to voluntarily reduce their water use by 10 per cent,” he said.
ideas on ways you can reduce water use, please visit the water quantity and water conservation page at abca.ca at this link:
The Water Response Team relies on both precipitation and streamflow indicators to support any decision to move into a Low Water Advisory. Indicators include one-month streamflow and one-month or three-month precipitation.
A Level 1 Low Water Advisory includes a request for a 10 per cent voluntary reduction in water use. A Level 2 Low Water Advisory calls for an additional 10 per cent (total of 20 per cent) voluntary reduction in water use. A Level 3 Low Water Advisory may involve mandatory water use restrictions.
The Water Response Team was formed in 2001 in response to the low water and drought conditions that year and the team has been active ever since.
The WRT includes representatives of major water users (such as aggregate industries; agriculture and vegetable growers; and golf and recreation) and includes local municipal representatives and staff of provincial ministries (such as Natural Resources and Forestry; Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; and Environment, Conservation and Parks).
ABCA staff will continue to monitor rainfall and streamflow data and keep the public informed of any changes in watershed conditions.
Visit www.ontario.ca/lowwater for further resources on the Ontario low water response program or the website at abca.ca for the dynamic low-water advisory tool which alerts people to low-water advisories in effect in the watershed.