GRAND RIVER CONSERVATION AUTHORITY
Despite higher than normal precipitation across much of the Grand River watershed in June and July, groundwater and river base flow levels are still low due to the extremely dry spring. As a result, water users throughout the watershed are asked to continue to reduce their consumption by 10 per cent until conditions improve.
An unusually dry year has contributed to reduced stream flows in a number of tributaries throughout the watershed, and the Grand River Conservation Authority continues to use large upstream reservoirs to augment river flows in order to maintain low flow targets on the Grand and Speed Rivers.
The reminder to stay vigilant with water use reductions came from the Grand River Low Water Response Team, which held a virtual meeting late last week. The team is made up of representatives of major water users including municipalities, farmers, golf course operators, water bottlers, aggregate businesses and others.
The Low Water Response Team decided to keep the entire watershed at Level 1 under the Ontario Low Water Response Program until pressure on the system eases this fall.
Level 1 results in a request for a voluntary 10 per cent reduction in water consumption by all water users, including municipalities, aggregate operations, golf courses, water bottlers, farms for irrigation and private users. For residents, the most effective thing they can do right now is to follow their municipal outdoor water use bylaws, which limit watering to specific days and times.
The GRCA’s large reservoirs are within their normal operating range for this time of year, but increased discharges to maintain flow targets, coupled with high evaporation and low inflows means water levels will continue to drop.
The GRCA is operating these reservoirs carefully to meet flow targets downstream, while maintaining storage in order to help augment flows throughout the summer. During the dry summer months, more than 80 per cent of the flow in the Grand River comes from upstream reservoirs. This augmentation helps municipalities that get some, or all of their drinking water from the Grand River including Waterloo Region, Brantford and Six Nations. Water from these reservoirs also support the proper operation of about 30 wastewater treatment plants throughout the watershed. As the augmentation season progresses, the conditions of the reservoirs will be closely monitored and reviewed.
More information on the Low Water Response Program is available on the GRCA website.