Whitemans sub-watershed at Level 2 - water conservation urged and anglers asked to refrain from fishing in Whitemans Creek, Nith, Eramosa and McKenzie Creek sub-watersheds are at Level 1 Conditions
Cambridge - Water users in the Whitemans Creek sub-watershed in Brant and Oxford counties are being asked to further reduce their consumption by 20 per cent, because of dry conditions in the area. Whitemans Creek, which has been in a Level 1 condition since early August, has now been moved to a Level 2.
The request comes from the Grand River Low Water Response Team, which has noted water levels in the creek have dropped to below half of the average summer flow. In addition, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is asking anglers to refrain from fishing in Whitemans Creek. Low water levels and high water temperatures can put the fish population under stress, which can be compounded by fishing.
Whitemans Creek is a major source of water for farm irrigation in an area known for its tobacco, ginseng, fruits and vegetables. The Grand River Low Water Response Team met in a teleconference on Wednesday, September 2, 2015, and decided to declare Whitemans creek to be in a Level 2 condition due to the hot weather and little to no precipitation in the forecast. The team is made up of representatives of major water users including municipalities, farmers, golf course operators, gravel pit businesses, Six Nations and others.
Meanwhile, the Lower Nith and Eramosa sub-watersheds have remained at Level 1 conditions since early August, and McKenzie Creek has now moved into a Level 1 condition based on lower than average flows. Water users in these areas are reminded to reduce their consumption by 10 per cent.
Under the Ontario Low Water Response Plan, Level 1 results in a request for a voluntary 10 per cent reduction in water consumption by holders of Permits to Take Water. Level 2 conditions are declared when flows in a river or stream sink to less than 50 per cent of normal, which triggers the request for a voluntary reduction in water use of 20 per cent.
Permits are issued by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to those who withdraw more than 50,000 litres a day of water from a watercourse, pond or well. In the Whitemans Creek sub-watershed, there are about 130 Permits to Take Water, most of which are for irrigation.
The aquifer that feeds Whitemans Creek also feeds many wells and dug ponds in the area. Water withdrawn from wells and ponds can reduce the amount of water that makes its way into the creek. Therefore, it is important that all water users help to conserve water.
Owners of rural private household wells can conserve water by restricting their lawn watering and other outdoor water uses.
Farmers can reduce consumption and the impact on the aquifer by following best practices for irrigation, which include:
· Arrange with their neighbours to stagger irrigation times;
· Pump at a lower rate over a longer period of time, and store water in a pond if possible;
· Ensure that their equipment is running efficiently and not leaking;
· Minimize daytime irrigation to reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation.
By following these and other best practices for irrigation, farmers can help ensure there is enough water available for all farmers to share during the dry weather.