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Local water level conditions downgraded in watershed

The excessive amounts of rain may not have been a good thing for erosion along the Lake Ontario shoreline, but the CLOCA watershed has been able to make a speedy recovery from last summer’s dry conditions thanks to the plentiful precipitation.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The incessant rain may have had many Oshawa residents groaning as they remained shuttered inside their homes this spring, but the profusion of precipitation has been nothing but good for the local watershed.

The Central Lake Conservation Authority (CLOCA) was able to recently downgrade it’s Low Water Conditions to Normal after an extremely dry 2016 left the watershed in dire straits. Last year, Oshawa saw a 25 per cent reduction in the amount of rainfall over the first seven months from the previous year, according to Environment Canada.

However, the mild winter months compiled with the excess rain has allowed for the aquifers within CLOCA’s watershed to recharge at a quicker rate than expected.

“We’re kind of shocked really that it’s happened this quickly,” says Neil MacFarlane, an environmental engineering analyst for CLOCA. “Usually, it takes a much longer period. I think it’s just the right conditions happened in sequence there to get the water into the ground to start that recovery.”

The saturated soil left behind by the warmer-than-usual winter was complimented by 118 per cent the normal precipitation amounts in March, 115 per cent the normal in April and 164 per cent the normal in May.

This has allowed several of the monitoring wells in CLOCA’s watershed to return to their historical average and MacFarlane says they are continuing to trend upward.

CLOCA’s low water level messaging comes in four stages. Upgrading from Normal to Level 1 calls for the promotion of a 10 per cent reduction in water use, Level 2 calls for the promotion of a 20 per cent reduction, while a Level 3 will more than likely require some form of water use restrictions.

Residents who are still experiencing problems with their shallow wells, CLOCA advises that information is available through the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change at http://www.ontario.ca/page/managing-your-water-well-times-water-shortage#section-2.