Kawartha Conservation has declared a Level 1 low water condition and is encouraging a voluntary 10% reduction in non-essential water use across the entire Kawartha Conservation watershed. This includes areas within the City of Kawartha Lakes, Scugog, Brock, Municipality of Trent lakes, Cavan Monaghan, and Clarington.
According to the Ontario Low Water Response (OLWR) Program, the Level 1 low water condition is declared when a watershed receives only 80% or less of the normal amount of precipitation over a 3 month period. Level 1 is the lowest of three levels, and the first indication of potential water supply problems.
Dry to extremely dry conditions have been observed within Kawartha Conservation’s watershed during the past three months. Precipitation data collected at Ken Reid Conservation Area indicates that rainfall for this April, May, and June is about 50% of the historical average of 233.1 mm. (Actual precipitation levels totalled 115.8 mm.) In Blackstock, the gauge station recorded only 34% of historical average rainfall of 273.3 mm (actual precipitation was recorded at 93.6 mm).
Local rivers and streams have also been affected by lack of precipitation. While watercourses are still flowing above the OLWR program threshold, they demonstrate below normal water levels for this time of year.
Groundwater aquifers have not been recharged sufficiently. Since it takes longer for groundwater to reflect changes in recharge amounts, especially for deeper aquifers, there is potential for water shortages in wells and rivers later this summer.
Kawartha Conservation is asking residential, agricultural, and commercial water users, on both municipal systems and private wells, to do their part by reducing non-essential water use by 10% and to conserve water. This may include fixing leaky faucets and installing low flow devises, and not washing your car, rinsing the driveway, or watering the lawn. Making small changes now will help avoid potential water shortages if conditions persist.
Working in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and local stakeholders representing key water-use sectors, Kawartha Conservation will be forming a Low Water Response Team, which will determine if any further course of action is needed. The Conservation Authority will continue to monitor the low water situation, and will provide updated information as it becomes available.