Super User

Super User

The last significant rainfall in the Rideau River watershed on June 5 caused streamflows to increase and helped crop growth, but the effect has worn off and the lack of rain since has once again left flows dropping and crops in need of more water.

Rainfall recorded at Kemptville indicates that the Moderate Drought severity has been reached in the southern parts of the watershed. However, the drought severity overall in the watershed is still Minor but is expected to reach Moderate status late next week. Forecast rain next week is not expected to have a significant impact.

Streamflows increased to about 50% of normal after the June 5 rain but have declined again to about 15% of normal for the time of year. The present flow on the Jock River is less than what is typically seen during the annual lowest flow period in early September.

Small streams will be going dry which will put stress on the various aquatic species. Lake levels in the upper half of the watershed will continue to decline which can be expected to introduce more hazards to navigation. The challenge for Parks Canada staff to balance water levels in the reservoir lakes and the Canal will be increasingly difficult.

Staff at the Perth and the Smiths Falls Drinking Water Treatment Plants are monitoring the condition of the source waters and amending treatment as necessary.

While water conservation is recommended for everyone in the watershed as a normal practise it is less critical in the urban area of Ottawa that is served by a water system that draws from the Ottawa River. Those who have permits for taking water from surface or groundwater sources are encouraged to reduce their actual taking as much as possible and residents on wells will need to use water conservatively. Municipalities may invoke water use bylaws and residents should find out what bylaws are in effect in their municipalities regarding water use as well as outdoor fires.

Conservation Authority staff continue to monitor conditions and communicate with water managers throughout the watershed through the Rideau Valley Water Response Team. An update of this statement will be issued on Thursday, June 23.

To learn more about Ontario’s Low Water Response program visit: Also, visit the RVCA website ( for local conditions.

In order that we can track impacts of the drought conditions in the watershed, we request that any individuals or businesses in the Rideau Watershed who may be experiencing difficulties with their wells please contact the Conservation Authority by calling 613-692-3571 or 1-800-267-3504, ext. 1128 or 1132.

With no rain until Monday in weather forecasts, it is expected that the drought status for the Rideau River watershed will pass the threshold from Minor to Moderate Severity by Sunday. The amount of rain forecast for Monday will do little to reverse the trend of deepening drought.

Flows in the Rideau River at Ottawa are 15% of normal for the time of year. Larger tributary streams are about 6% of normal and many small streams are intermittent or dry. Aquatic habitat is becoming limited for all species.

The precipitation indicator for Moderate Drought of 60% of normal was reached last Sunday. Rainfall since then has had a minimal impact and conditions remain very dry.

Flows in the Rideau River at Ottawa are at 25% of normal for the time of year. Two of the major tributary streams, Jock River and Kemptville Creek, are both flowing at about 6% of normal. The Tay River is in relatively better shape benefitting from outflow from Bobs Lake, one of the Rideau Canal reservoir lakes. Smaller streams are intermittent or dry and aquatic habitat is compromised for all species.

Sporadic and random rainfall over the last week was not enough to bring the Rideau River watershed out of the Severe Drought status reached in mid-August

Previous rain in August did cause flows and levels to increase but only for a brief period. With rain coming in small cells that affected very limited areas, levels have quickly declined again. Forecast for this week has a total of 20 millimetres possible that will not have a significant impact.

August 31, 2016

Report a Problem

Feeling the impact of a drought in the Rideau Valley? Any individuals or businesses experiencing problems due to low water are encouraged to contact the Water Response Team to help us track and understand local conditions.

Email us using the Subject: Drought Impacts.
Include the following details in your email:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your phone number and
  • comments how the drought is impacting you.


Low Water Response Program — How the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Manages Water use During a Drought 

Tips on How To Manage your Water Well in Times of Water Shortage 

Dry Conditions and Low Water 

Tips — How to Conserve Water

  • Filling wells with surface water, or potable water is not recommended. Installing a holding tank that links to a household system, and filling that with potable water is a better option.
  • Removing water from streams and lakes for watering lawns or gardens may cause problems for other users.

In the yard

  • Brown grass is only dormant, not dead. Grass only needs 25 mm of water each week to do well, any more can weaken the roots.
  • 20 L (5 gal) of water once a week will help trees survive dry conditions.
  • Don't water lawns and gardens when a municipal water shortage warning is in effect.
  • If you must water, only water gardens and lawns once a week, no more than one inch in total, including rain.
  • Avoid watering on windy days and water your lawn and plants in the morning — evaporation occurs at a slower rate than if you watered in the hot sun.
  • Cut grass less frequently and cut grass higher as it reduces evaporation and increases moisture.
  • Collect and use rainwater for your lawn and gardens — it's free and better for your plants than municipally supplied water or well water. Consider buying a rain barrel.
  • Plant drought resistant plants — convert your lawns to low-care perennials.

Your car

  • Don't wash your car when a municipal water shortage warning is in effect.
  • Use commercial car washes that recycle their water.
  • If you do wash your car, do it on the lawn. Use a bucket of soapy water and the bare minimum to rinse it off.

In the kitchen

  • Rinse fruits and vegetables by putting a little water in the sink or a bowl instead of running water.
  • When hand washing dishes, plug the drain and do them all at once.
  • Run the dishwasher with full loads only.
  • Defrost frozen foods in the refrigerator or the microwave, not under running water.
  • For cold water to drink, keep a jug in the fridge instead of running the tap.

In the bathroom

  • Install a low-flush toilet or install a toilet dam in your toilet tank to reduce water use.
  • Keep showers to five minutes or less.
  • Consider buying a water efficient showerhead.
  • If you must take a bath, fill the tub with only the amount of water really needed to clean yourself (1/4 full).
  • When cleaning your teeth, don’t keep the tap running, use a glass to rinse. Rinsing a toothbrush under a tap wastes about 4,000 litres of water a year.
  • Replace all leaky tap washers, they can waste more than 400 litres of water a day. Repair all leaks in pipes and toilets as well.


  • Wash clothes only when you have a full load.
August 31, 2016

Low Flow Index

Our low flow index has four stages:

No low flow or drought conditions exist.
This category reflects concern.
80% to 60% of long-term average precipitation for 540 day and/or 90 day precipitation totals and/or 7-day average streamflows less than the 5 year return period low flow.
This category suggests a potentially serious problem is pending.
60% to 40% of long-term average precipitation for 540, 90 and/or 30 day precipitation totals and/or 7-day average streamflows less than the 10 year return period low flow.
This category indicates a failure of the water supply to meet demand.
Less than 40% of long-term average precipitation for 540, 90 and/or 30 day precipitation totals and/or 7-day average streamflows less than the 10 year return period low flow.

Click here for the RVCA's Watershed Conditions Statements.

Fresh water is a natural resource critical to the economic and environmental well being of all residents of the Rideau Valley. Periods of dry, hot weather and low water levels were relatively uncommon — happening every decade or so. But, with changing weather patterns, low water levels may occur more often, especially with the increasing demand for water.

The Government of Ontario has developed the Ontario Low Water Response Plan, which ensures that the province is prepared for low water conditions in the future. The response plan helps co-ordinate and support local response in the event of drought. The local teams are established in areas experiencing low water conditions so that the local community can carry out actions to reduce and better manage water use.

The Rideau Valley Water Response Team, co-ordinated by RVCA, is made up of representatives of water users: member municipalities, farmers, businesses, recreation and others. The Low Water Response Team communicates when necessary to review stream flow information and weather forecasts. Based on the information, the committee may declare a low water condition for the watershed.

Feeling the impact of a drought in the Rideau Valley? Help us track and understand local concerns.

Email us  using the Subject: Drought Impacts.
Include the following details in your email:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your phone number and
  • comments how the drought is impacting you.

Low water affects:

  • municipal sources
  • private wells
  • lakes, rivers, ponds and all the residents in those waters
  • agriculture — irrigation, watering livestock
  • fire fighting
  • business and industrial uses
  • recreation (boating, fishing, swimming)
  • personal use — drinking, washing, laundry, etc.

Members of the Rideau Watershed Low Water Response Team

  • Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests
  • Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
  • Parks Canada - Rideau Canal
  • Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
  • Watershed municipalities
August 31, 2016

Municipal Response

Municipalities are responsible for emergency response services during serious flood events. Please contact your local municipality should you have local flooding issues where assistance is needed:

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Contact Us

Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
3889 Rideau Valley Drive
Manotick, Ontario K4M 1A5

613-692-3571, 1-800-267-3504



Regular Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Member of: conservation ontario