- BUT ON-GOING GROUNDWATER CONSERVATION IS IMPORTANT
Pembroke (ON): On Thursday, January 25, 2013, the Renfrew County Low Water Response Team (WRT) met to evaluate the most recent data available on precipitation (rain and snow) levels and surface water flow rates. The data revealed that precipitation levels have recovered to above normal averages and that surface flow rates were within an historic average range. This data enabled the WRT to move the County of Renfrew out of a Level 1 Low Water Response condition. This means that the drought, which was first declared on July 10, 2012, is over.
The Water Response Team, however, urges caution and on-going awareness of just how sensitive our water supply can be to reduced levels of precipitation and extended dry and hot weather conditions.
County residents, businesses and institutions relying on groundwater and well systems for their water supply are strongly encouraged to continue to monitor their water supply carefully and exercise water conservation. As the drought unfolded last year it was those relying on groundwater systems that encountered the most problems. Well drillers were kept busy across the County extending wells to deeper aquifers. The expense to ensure reliable groundwater supply was a serious and unexpected burden to farmers, home owners and businesses. Hydro electric power production across the County was severely restricted due to the low water levels in all our rivers, including the Ottawa River, which had a serious financial impact on municipal and private power companies.
During the winter months, with the ground frozen, groundwater has very little opportunity to recharge. The two recent major thaws we have experienced, accompanied by rainfall, provided very little groundwater recharge. County well drillers all agree that it is imperative that we have significant snowfall this winter and a slow, extended spring thaw accompanied by frequent rain once the ground has thawed.
The WRT is still active, despite the fact we have moved out of a drought situation, and will continue to closely monitor the situation. It was realized that in the County there are very few precipitation and stream flow gauges from which we can obtain data, and no groundwater monitoring capability. A key project over the winter, working with the Ontario Government, is to obtain and plan for the installation of new gauges. Local municipalities and the County of Renfrew, in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources Pembroke District office, view this as imperative so that the WRT can more effectively monitor our water situation and be better prepared for low water conditions.
To underscore just how serious the water situation continues to be, here and across much of North America, as of January 17, 2013, 59% of the United States remains in a moderate drought situation and the high plains states continue to experience severe drought.
For more information:
Alastair Baird- Manager Economic Development Services, County of Renfrew 613-735-0091
Paul Moreau- Director Development and Property Services, County of Renfrew 613-735-3204