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Peterborough and area residents urged to reduce water use by 10% amid persistent dry conditions

Peterborough and area residents are urged to reduce their water use by 10 per cent amid a Level 1 water condition declared on Thursday.

Otonabee Conservation made the declaration due to “persistent dry conditions” throughout the Otonabee Region watershed which includes Peterborough, the City of Kawartha Lakes and the townships of Selwyn, Douro-Dummer, Asphodel-Norwood, Otonabee-South Monaghan and Cavan Monaghan, and the Municipality of Trent Hills.

Authorities say the watershed experienced an earlier-than-normal spring freshet combined with an extremely dry May, which has resulted in below-normal stream flows in May that are just above drought thresholds.

Read more:
Authorities warn Otonabee Region watershed in Peterborough area nears possible drought this spring

May’s precipitation totals were 63.8 per cent of that normal — it is usually the third wettest month of the year. May 2021 saw three consecutive weeks without rain and is now the fourth driest May on record, according to Gordon Earle, water resources technologist.

“We will need to receive a minimum of 97.5 mm of rain in June to raise the three-month precipitation total and to recover from the Level 1 low water condition,” he said. “To avoid dropping into a Level 2, we will require no less than 51.5 mm of rain in June.”

Under the Level 1 low water condition, residents are being asked to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 10 per cent. This includes municipalities, aggregate operations, golf courses, water bottlers, farm irrigation and private users.

Among ways to reduce water use include:

  • Water gardens wisely or use stored rainwater from a rain barrel
  • Adhere to municipal watering restrictions that may apply
  • Do not wash driveways or wash automobiles in driveways – use a broom or visit a carwash
  • Check faucets, toilets, outdoor spigots, sprinklers and other irrigations systems for leaks

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 July to review the data collected in June.

“While the data indicates that we are experiencing a seasonal drought, climate stations in our watershed are showing longer-term deficits that are below the Level 1 drought threshold, and which may indicate a long-term drought,” said Earle. “A minimum of 87.6 mm of precipitation needs to be received in June to raise this indicator above the long-term drought threshold.”

A level 1 low water condition was also issued for the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority on Thursday afternoon, as authorities also request a water use reduction by 10 per cent.

Authorities say recent rainfalls have been in the 6-12 mm range which is not enough to reverse the downward trend in water levels.  The affected major watersheds are Cobourg Creek, Gages Creek, Ganaraska River, Port Britain Creek, Graham Creek, Wilmot Creek and other numerous smaller tributaries of Rice Lake and Lake Ontario.
In the major catchments, the recorded flows are above 100 per of the lowest average month flows (August) for the long term period of record.

“This is due to high water retention in the largely forested headwaters of our water systems. However, since May 3, the precipitation volumes have been very low,” the authority stated. “Weather stations operated by the GRCA recorded an average of 73 per cent of the normally expected precipitation. These numbers are based on the three month accumulated totals from March 1 to May 31, compared to historic averages over a 30-year record.

“More consistent rainfall is needed as the summer progresses to prevent water supply shortages in streams and groundwater resources.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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