By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
Oshawa has seen a fairly dry 2016, and now the area’s watersheds are starting to feel the effects.
The Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (CLOCA) has issued a Level 2 low water condition warning for the watersheds it covers.
According to Perry Sisson, the director of engineering and field operations for CLOCA, the cause behind the low water levels is the lack of precipitation this year.
“Starting in the winter, we’ve had low water conditions from a lack of snowfall. Running through the last few months, coming to the current period, we just haven’t had the rainfall that we normally get on a month-to-month basis,” he says.
“The rainfall that we have had over the last month is a little bit deceiving in that we’ve had a few little bursts from thunderstorms here and there, and they tend not to replenish the watershed and groundwater resources the way an all-day rain will. They tend to hit, run off and be gone.”
According to data from Environment and Climate Change Canada, between the start of the year and the end of July, the amount of precipitation in Oshawa has dropped by nearly 25 per cent, with 2016 seeing 312.3 millimetres in that time period. For the same time last year, Oshawa saw 415.3 millimetres of precipitation.
Sisson says the low levels have had an effect on the local wildlife that relies so heavily on those water sources.
“Some things are hitting all-time lows for this time of year. It means that there’s stress on all the wildlife and organisms that use the stream for their survival,” he says.
“Fish are one of the big ones that everyone sees. They’re hiding out in the little pockets, the cool areas, trying to survive. There’s just not a lot of flow, not a lot of deep pockets for them to hang out in.”
Because of the lack of rain and the resulting lower watershed, Sisson says the conservation authority is calling on businesses and residents alike to cut back on the amount of water they use.
“The average resident, it’s just a case of being water wise,” Sisson says.
“Just make sure when you use water, it’s for a good purpose – don’t use it wastefully – and we’re using it when we need it and not when we don’t need it. If we can cut back on some of the lawn watering and car washing through a dry period, that’s beneficial.”
According to a news release from CLOCA, as the low water condition is at Level 2, it is calling for a 20-per-cent reduction in the amount of water being used.
In the mean time, with water levels low, Sisson says there is one main thing that conservation authority is desperately hoping for: rain.
“We’ve been doing the rain dance, but nothing’s been happening,” he says.
“We need an inch of rain to bring a bit of life back to the systems, but if it comes in a half-hour blast, it doesn’t have the same value as an all-day soaker. We really need some of those all-day rains to bring things back to average again.”