It is mid June, and the South Nation Watershed is already experiencing drought conditions.
South Nation Conservation Authority issued a Level I Low Water Condition. Precipitation over the last three months has been well below normal. North Dundas is under a burn ban.
Ontario Low Water Response Program is a program that allows the monitoring of water resources by those who use it on the ground, and those interested in the status of water in their communities.
Areas of the province that are experiencing low water conditions have set up Water Response Teams. Water Response Teams are administered by local conservation authorities. Historically, drought or low-water conditions was uncommon, occurring on average every 10 to 15 years.
Climate change and changing weather patterns are making low-water levels, and drought, more common. Extreme weather events stemming from climate change contribute to and exacerbate drought conditions and low water events.
In recent years, southwestern and eastern Ontario have both experienced extended periods of low rainfall, combined with higher-than-usual temperatures. This has led to some of the lowest water levels in many years, and subsequently drier soils. At the same time, we have seen record breaking floods. Extreme rain that causes flooding does not lead to less drought, as the water runs off and is not usable.
The Canadian Drought Monitor (CDM) is the federal program of monitoring and reporting drought and low water levels. A map of current Canadian drought and low-water conditions can be found online at Agriculture Canada at agr.gc.ca. Currently much of south and eastern Ontario is experiencing moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions.
The furthest reaches of southwestern Ontario are already experiencing severe drought. Places in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are currently in extreme drought conditions. In northern Ontario, there have been 320 forest fires so far this year. By this date last year in 2020, there had only been 127 forest fires. The ten-year average for number of forest fires by this date is 202.
Businesses and residents in the entire watershed are asked to reduce their water consumption by 10%. In addition to avoiding unnecessary use of water while in any drought conditions, there are a few things you can do to help save water. Water gardens early morning or late evening to reduce the amount of water that evaporates. This is better for plants as well. Wash your car with a bucket. Save rainwater in a rain barrel.