Friday, July 13, 2012

Level 2 drought

Lac St. Louis off the northern tip of L'Ile Perrot is nearly a foot below where it should be. Beach and rocks are exposed where water once was. ValleyWX Photo
I was writing yesterday about how critical the lack of rainfall is becoming across the region. Well today a Level 2 Drought (see below) is being declared by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, the first in over 10 years. This will include the entire Ottawa River watershed which stretches across the National Capital Region and communities on both sides of the border across Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. Several Quebec communities draw water from the river including Rigaud, Pincourt and a large part of the municipality of Vaudreuil/Dorion.

In Vaudreuil/Dorion a ban on any outdoor use of water has been declared and residents are expected to reduce consumption by at least 20%. The Ottawa River is at a 10 year low which is prompting officials in the municipality to reduce outflow by up to 50%. Stiff fines are being imposed, up to $500 for violators. The ban includes washing your car and especially watering the lawn (I have seen so many violators already). The restrictions may be extended to other communities including Ile Perrot if rain does not come soon. A ban on any outdoor fires is also in effect for Vaudreuil/Dorion. Firefighters across eastern Ontario and western Quebec have been responding to brush fires, as the tinder dry grass burns easily.

How bad is it? Ottawa has just come off its warmest and driest 12 months in that cities history. Now we are in the middle of a week long period of hot weather with no rain, and this is expected to last well into next week with just a risk of isolated showers. Temperatures will hit at least 30C everyday into next Thursday. Since June 8th, Ottawa has recorded only 19.6mm of rain, or 20 per cent of their normal.

From the Ottawa Citizen, crews battle a brush fire in 33C heat yesterday near Richmond Road.
Here are three levels of drought in Ontario’s low water response plan.
Level 1 Benchmark: Precipitation level over three months or 18 months falls below 80 per cent of average.
Response: Voluntary 10 per cent reduction in water use among all sectors

Level 2 Benchmark: Precipitation level over one month, three months or 18 months falls to between 60 and 40 per cent of average following a confirmed Level 1 or Level 3 drought.
Response: Further voluntary 10 per cent water use reduction (20 per cent total)

Level 3 Benchmark: Precipitation level over one month, three months or 18 months falls below 40 per cent of average, following a confirmed Level 2 drought.
Response: Actions move from largely voluntary compliance to regulatory control.

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