The Cataraqui Region Water Response Team met yesterday afternoon, and agreed to move from a Moderate to a Severe drought condition declaration across the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority (CRCA) watershed.
The last four months (April through July) were some of the driest ever recorded in the Kingston area.
Only 10 mm of rain fell, on average, across the CRCA in the last 30 days (average is ~70 mm) and there has been essentially no rain yet in August, 1/3 of the way through the month. Stream flows are now exceptionally low, close to the lowest ever recorded, with some streams having dried up entirely.
Lake levels across the CRCA, and eastern Ontario, have been falling due to evaporation (as much as 2.5 cm each day), and are as much as 20 cm below normal for this time of year. These low levels will be potentially exposing hazards that are normally irrelevant. Recreational users (swimmers, boaters, etc.) should exercise caution. These low levels are expected to persist into winter conditions.
The long term forecast appears to predict a continuation of hot and dry conditions through the fall, meaning current conditions may continue for a number of months. Steady, sustained, significant rainfall for a number of days is needed to bring conditions back towards normal. Across the CRCA, watershedsare in a deficit of 110 mm or more over the last 3 months.
With the continued dry conditions, residents using shore wells, or private ground water wells, should be practicing water conservation, as they are likely the most vulnerable users across the jurisdiction, and there is already anecdotal evidence of wells going dry across the region.
The CRCA recommends water conservation for all residents across the CRCA region and eastern Ontario as good practice, even in normal conditions.
Typical residential indoor water use breakdown across the US and Canada, according to the Water Research Foundation, is:
Clothes Washer 17%
This certainly leaves room for conservation, with wise water use in the home.
The dry conditions also mean high susceptibility for fire, and each of the municipalities of the CRCA has a fire ban in place. Extreme caution should be exercised with any open flames across the region, including cigarettes.
Low water conditions are determined by the Cataraqui Region Water Response Team (WRT) convened by the CRCA. Membership includes water managers, major water users, public health, agriculture, school boards, marina operators, golf courses, government agencies, dam operators and others.