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Water conservation urged throughout Ontario’s Grand River watershed


June 4, 2015
By Ground Water Canada

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June 4, 2015, Cambridge, Ont. – Water users throughout the Grand River watershed are being
asked to cut their consumption by 10 per cent because of the unusually
dry weather this year.

June 4, 2015, Cambridge, Ont. – Water users throughout the Grand River watershed are being
asked to cut their consumption by 10 per cent because of the unusually
dry weather this year.

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Even with the heavy rain that fell last weekend, most of the
Grand River watershed has received only two-thirds of the normal
precipitation over the last three months, said a news release on the Grand River Conservation Authority website.

 

The call for the reduction came from the Grand River Low Water
Response Team which met in a conference call on June 3. The team is
made up of representatives of major water users including
municipalities, farmers, golf course operators, water bottlers,
aggregate businesses, Six Nations and others.

 

The Low Water Response Team decided to place the entire watershed at Level 1 under the Ontario Low Water Response plan.

 

Level 1 results in a request for a voluntary 10 per cent
reduction in water consumption by holders of Permits to Take Water.
There are about 750 permits in the watershed issued to those taking more
than 50,000 litres of water a day from a river, stream or well. The
permit holders include municipalities, aggregate operations, golf
course, water bottlers and farms for irrigation.

 

Prior to the weekend, much of the watershed had received
one-tenth of the normal rainfall during May. Rivers and creeks were
running at levels normally seen in July and August. Groundwater levels
have not rebounded as much as they usually do this spring. A lot of the
winter snow evaporated instead of melting and soaking into the ground.

 

Low groundwater levels could result in lower flows later in the
year in rivers and creeks that are fed by springs, seeps and other
groundwater discharge.

 

Some farms had already started irrigating prior to the weekend
rain, particularly in Brant and Oxford counties. Farm irrigation is
heavy near Whitemans and Horner creeks where a lot of fruit, vegetables,
tobacco and ginseng are grown on sandy soil.

 

For most residents, the most effective thing they can do is to
follow their municipal outdoor water use bylaws, which limit watering to
alternate days or once a week. Lawn watering restrictions are already
in place in Waterloo Region, Guelph, Brantford, Brant County and Oxford
County.

 

The GRCA has been augmenting the flow in the Grand, Conestogo and
Speed rivers with water stored in its reservoir network. The GRCA
managed to store enough water from the spring melt and April rains to
continue to augment flows throughout the summer. That helps
municipalities that get all or some of their drinking water from the
Grand River including Waterloo Region, Brantford and Six Nations. It
also supports the proper operation of about 30 sewage treatment plants
that put their treated effluent into the Grand and its tributaries.