In the area of Belleville, ON, the Quinte watershed has experienced low water conditions since June. In August, a Level 3 Low Water Condition was declared. As of late October, the alert is still in effect.

In presentation to the council, Terry Murphy, general manager at Quinte Conservation, commented that the watershed authority has not previously encountered a drought of this severity. And, as such, the Conservation has recommended that all municipalities within the county develop drought management plans to deal with situations reflecting what the Quinte watershed has experienced for the last 5 months.

As reported in The Belleville Intelligencer, many area residents have resorted to using above-ground water storage, which will not be tenable once temperatures drop below freezing, exacerbating the problem through winter and, possibly, spring. Murphy said, “Because once the ground freezes, we can’t recharge the groundwater. All the people in the country who don’t have water now, probably won’t have water all winter.” And, once spring 2017 arrives, the restoration of groundwater will have to compensate for what was lacking through 2016.

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Quinte Conservation made several recommendations as to measures that need to be included in drought management plans:

  • By-laws written and ready to enforced when a Level 3 Low Water Condition is declared with specific details for enforcement and fines.
  • Clear definitions of non-essential water use.
  • A thorough documentation of all water sources and their drought resilience.
  • Identification of alternatives to vulnerable water sources, particularly for fire fighting.
  • Identification of stresses to the water supply and mitigation practices for stress impacts.
  • Implementation of a communication plan that accounts for each level of water condition and when by-laws are in effect.
  • And rural municipalities should be prepared to manage agricultural needs.

The Quinte Conservation authority drafted its report on October 6th and presented to the Hastings county council on the 27th of October.

More information is available at The Quinte Conservation or via the Hastings County minutes.

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