April 23, 2021
Although nobody can predict the weather, and despite some recent rain and snow, 2021 is shaping up to be an abnormally dry year across the Cataraqui Region watershed if the current weather trends continue.
Cataraqui Region residents enjoyed a relatively easy winter with warmer-than-normal temperatures in every month except for February. With a combination of below-average precipitation and above-average temperatures, all evidence points to a dry year ahead.
Since December 2020 weather trends have been indicating dry conditions to come:
- Although snow cover was maintained throughout the winter (no usual mid-winter thaws), overall, there was less snow.
- Monthly precipitation has been below the long-term normal since December
- Since mid-March streamflows continue to fall below normal
So, what does this all mean?
With the lack of precipitation, all monitored stream flows across the Cataraqui Region watershed are currently well below normal for this time of year. If low precipitation continues, then declaration of a low water condition is inevitable. Sustained low precipitation will continue to impact surface water flows, water levels and eventually groundwater levels.
Cataraqui Conservation staff are preparing to meet with the Cataraqui Region Low Water Response Team, which is made up of municipal and agency partners, to discuss whether a low water declaration at the end of April is needed. The primary purpose of the Low Water Response Team is to provide a forum for the sharing of information among water managers and water takers, and to facilitate co-operative decision-making on the conservation of limited water supplies at the early stages of and throughout drought events, as they occur.
There are three levels of low water conditions that can be declared by the Low Water Response Team in a time of drought:
- Level One: is the first indication of a potential water supply problem, managed through water conservation; 10% voluntary water conservation by the public is requested.
- Level Two (moderate): A potentially serious problem, managed through water conservation and restrictions on non-essential water use; 20% voluntary water conservation by the public is requested.
- Level Three (severe): water supply fails to meet demand, managed through water conservation, restrictions, and regulation of water use.
Moving into and out of a low water condition takes time. Depending on how long conditions have been low it can take months for the low water condition status to return to normal.
Are you seeing low water conditions? Please let us know by filling out a quick online survey at https://cataraquiconservation.ca/pages/low-water. All submission will be used internally for data analysis.
For further information about the Cataraqui Conservation Low Water Response Program, current low water status and resources visit https://cataraquiconservation.ca.
For specific information about the Cataraqui River, including the Rideau Canal lock system, see Parks Canada’s webpage: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/on/rideau/info/infonet/point-gestion-eau-water-management-updates.