Water conservation urged throughout Grand River watershed

CAMBRIDGE – Water users throughout the Grand River watershed are being asked to cut their consumption by 10 per cent, because of the hot, dry weather.

Rainfall in June was sporadic with extended dry periods, and for the past 10 days there has been almost no measurable rainfall in the Grand River watershed. The low rainfall, coupled with the hot temperature, has contributed to reduced streams flows on a number of tributaries through the watershed.

The call for the reduction came from the Grand River Low Water Response Team, which met via conference call on July 8. The team is made up of representatives of major water users including municipalities, farmers, golf course operators, water bottlers, aggregate businesses, Six Nations and others. team decided to place the entire watershed at Level 1 under the Ontario Low Water Response Program.

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 watershed residents, the most effective thing to do is follow their municipal outdoor water use bylaws, which limit watering to specific days and times.

The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) has increased augmentation levels at its large reservoirs in order to meet low flow targets in the municipalities downstream of the major reservoirs. As of July 5, augmentation accounted for approximately 80 per cent of the flow through Kitchener, 40 per cent of the flow through Brantford and 40 per cent of the flow on the Speed River below Guelph. The GRCA’s reservoirs are currently within their normal operating range for this time of year.

The GRCA is operating the reservoirs carefully to meet flow targets downstream, while maintaining storage in order to augment flows throughout the summer. This helps municipalities that get all or some of their drinking water from the Grand River including Waterloo Region, Brantford and Six Nations. It also supports the proper operation of about 30 sewage 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.