(WCS-LW - 3/2020) July 15, 2020 – This statement is to advise that the low water status in the Rideau River watershed continues to be at MODERATE severity under the Ontario Low Water Responses Program.
Although varying amounts of rain fell across the watershed last weekend, the watershed has still received very little rainfall over the past three months. The average 90-day rainfall measured at climate stations in and around the watershed is below 60 per cent of normal for this time of year. In the past 30 days, average rainfall is below 45 per cent of normal. The recent hot weather has also increased the evaporation rates throughout the watershed. Looking ahead, the seven-day weather forecast suggests we may receive over 20 mm of rain.
Stream flow values for all waterways are well below normal for this time of year. For example, the measured flows for the Rideau River at Carleton University and the Tay River in Perth are at about 50 percent normal for this time of year. Measured flows for the smaller tributaries such as the Jock River and Kemptville Creek are at or below 3 percent of normal for this time of year. Field observations around the watershed indicate that ecological conditions are poor and declining with many fragmented streams, warm temperatures and numerous reports of extensive algae and/or weed growth.
Members of the Rideau Valley Water Response Team have indicated that municipal water supplies are not experiencing any issues as a result of low water and no issues with private wells have been reported. However, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAFRA) indicate numerous concerns including loss of crop yields and increase in wells being drilled to supply water for livestock.
Following an early spring freshet this year, Parks Canada are closely monitoring the water levels throughout the Rideau Canal system inside the Rideau Valley watershed. Water levels in the reservoir lakes, located in the upper reaches of the Rideau Valley watershed, are below normal and are expected to decline further with limited precipitation in the forecast. Rideau River flows downstream of Big Rideau Lake have been reduced to minimum. Water levels in the Rideau River below Smiths Falls are within navigable ranges but some areas are below average for this time of year.
Watershed residents and businesses are encouraged to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 20 percent and strongly encouraged to limit non-essential water usage. This is especially important for those who have permits for taking water from surface or groundwater sources and all residents on private, communal or municipal wells. There is less of a concern for residents of urban Ottawa because the City of Ottawa central drinking water system draws from the Ottawa River. Residents throughout the watershed should be aware of any bans or bylaws that may be in place in their municipalities regarding fires or watering bans.
In order that RVCA can track impacts of the low water conditions in the watershed, its is requested that any individuals or businesses in the Rideau Watershed who may be experiencing difficulties with their wells or other low water impacts please contact the Conservation Authority by email. Please send emails to .
Although there is some rain in the forecast, low water conditions are expected to intensify in the coming weeks. Conservation Authority staff continue to monitor conditions and communicate with water managers throughout the watershed. Updates to this message will be issued as conditions warrant.
- Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks: https://www.ontario.ca/page/managing-your-water-well-times-water-shortage
- Ontario’s Low Water Response program: https://www.ontario.ca/page/low-water-response-program.
- RVCA website: www.rvca.ca
- Hourly and daily streamflows and water levels: https://www.rvca.ca/watershed-monitoring-reporting/reporting/streamflow-water-levels.
"Rideau Valley Conservation Authority is a partnership of municipalities within the Rideau Valley watershed created under the Conservation Authorities Act to deliver a range of programs in watershed management and natural resource conservation."