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Quinte looking all dried up

Quinte Region residents are going to have to cut their water usage down as new water conditions are put in place.

Recently a level one low water condition, asking residents to cut their water usage back by 10 per cent, was declared for the entire  Quinte Region. But if weather conditions stay the way they are, a level two low water condition could be next, said Bryon Keene water resources manager at Quinte Conservation.

“This year we’re not facing a level three yet, but we could be,” said Keene. “Next week we expect to be talking about level two unless we get some appreciable rain, and there’s not really much in the forecast yet so we could see a level three happening very shortly.”

A level two low water condition would mean that citizens are asked to cut their water usage by a total of 20 per cent. A level three on the other hand, is a mandatory cutback of 30 per cent of all water usage.

The economy itself must also be in danger to declare a level three, Keene said.

“There were the signs we could reach a level three but you need to show there will be some sort of economic hardship or real impact that would require us to declare a level three,” said Keene. “And there hasn’t been a lot of appetite for that to happen in previous years.”

Out of everyone affected by the on-going drought, well users and anyone who relies on the water for irrigation will need to be extra mindful.

“Folks whose wells would be hydraulically connected to the river they would experience some low water conditions, perhaps their wells aren’t as productive or may be running dry,” Keen said. “Some use the river for supply, for processes or irrigation. So some water users may have to cut back on their use to make sure there’s some left.”

The Trent-Severn waterway is prepared for further lack of rain, but it remains a big concern, said Roger Stanley, director of canal operations.

“As you know, we’re lacking rain desperately but across the navigable portion of the Trent-Severn Waterway, we’re still able to maintain levels within our prescribed navigation ranges,” Stanley said. “But we are drawing water from our reservoir lakes in an effort to maintain that.”

The reservoir lakes are up in the Haliburton region. They collect runoff from the winter and spring to help fill up the waterway during droughts such as this one. With a series of gauge stations, the water levels can be monitored every hour to better react to a change in levels.

Still, it all comes down to the weather, and if it doesn’t change, things could be worrisome, Stanley said.

“It is something that we’re very aware of, we monitor water levels daily around the clock and our staff respond as quickly as possible to make dam changes, but if there’s absolutely no rain for the rest of the year, it’ll be a main concern for us,” said Stanley. “We’re as prepared as we can be, and we always count on the natural environment to give us water, but it’s not cooperating right now.”