Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority

includes a request for a 10% voluntary reduction in water useLevel 1 Low Water Advisory

Water Response Team issues Level 1 Low Water Advisory for Bayfield River watershed

July 9, 2018

Water Response Team issues Level 1 Low Water Advisory for Bayfield River watershed

Prolonged hot, dry weather has significantly reduced streamflow

Dry weather and very low streamflow has prompted the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) Water Response Team (WRT) to issue a Level 1 Low Water Advisory for the Bayfield River watershed.

As reported at automated rain gauge locations, the Bayfield River watershed received about 50 per cent of the normal precipitation totals for the months of May and June combined, according to ABCA staff. Streamflow in the Bayfield River watershed has fallen well below the springtime Low Water Level 1 indicator threshold, which is 100 per cent of the August flows. August is when staff members typically see streamflow at its lowest. Actual June streamflow values for the Bayfield River were at 69 per cent of the Low Water indicator. As we move into July, real-time streamflow is indicative of Level 3 low water conditions. 

Rainfall totals across the remainder of the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority watershed have been below normal over the past two months as well. However, a band of heavy rain passing through the central and southern parts of the ABCA watershed, from June 22-24, 2018, brought some reprieve to declining streamflow in the Ausable River.  

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. The prolonged period of below-normal precipitation could have a long-lasting impact on streamflow and water availability this summer, according to Davin Heinbuck, Water Resources Coordinator at ABCA. “In some areas, water availability in streams is vitally important to sustaining crops through very dry periods,” he said. The focus should be on sustaining water availability through responsible management and conservation of the water resource, he said. “If a dry weather pattern continues, a recovery of the already stressed watershed will become more difficult as we move through the summer,” according to Heinbuck. 

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 the summer. “For areas that are 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.  For ideas on ways you can reduce water use, please visit the water quantity and water conservation page at abca.ca at this link: https://www.abca.ca/page.php?page=water-quantity

If dry conditions persist through July, it may be necessary to for the WRT to consider issuing Low Water Advisories for the entire watershed, and consider the possibility of the Bayfield River watershed moving into a Level 2 Condition in August. 

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 includes a call 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.

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