With no end in sight to the dry hot weather Quinte Conservation is telling local residents it’s time to get serious about conserving water.  General Manager Terry Murphy says, “Based on our monitoring and the phone calls we have received, water levels are low everywhere – not just in the rivers and lakes, but also water under the ground.  People on wells rely on this underground water for their water supply.  It’s important for homeowners to make a serious decision as to whether having a green lawn is more important than having water to drink or use in the house.”
Quinte Conservation and the Low Water Response Team declared a Level 2 Low Water Condition due to lack of rainfall and low flows in local rivers and streams on July 12.  The area has been experiencing low water conditions since the beginning of June.  A Level 2 Low Water Condition indicates a potentially serious water supply problem.  This level often means minor water supply issues are encountered and there is the potential for major supply problems.  During a Level 2 Low Water Condition residents, businesses and municipalities are asked to reduce their non-essential water usage by 20%.  Non-essential use includes lawn watering and washing sidewalks and driveways.
A Level 2 condition is managed through Conservation Authorities, municipalities and other key provincial agencies.  Low water conditions are ranked as Level 1, 2 or 3 based on a prolonged period of low flows or precipitation. A Level 1 is the least severe and Level 3 is the most severe.
Murphy adds, “As I drive around the watershed I’m glad to see that many of our residents, businesses and municipalities are taking the call to conserve water seriously.  The message needs to get across to everyone.  We have only received approximately 50% of average rainfall across the watershed over the past three months and there is little to no rain in the forecast for the coming days.  This means that water conservation is important now and may be more so as the summer progresses.”
The environmental organization is encouraging any individuals or businesses in the Quinte watersheds who experience problems or hardships, such as wells going dry, to contact Quinte Conservation by calling 613-968-3434 or 613-354-3312 and dialing extension 130.  Reports can also be emailed to infoquinteconservation.ca.  These reports will help the organization track the impacts of the Low Water Condition. 
Murphy says, “In the summer months close to 50% of water usage in the average home happens in the lawn and garden.  Hand watering vegetable gardens in the morning and not watering the lawn can go a long way toward conserving water.  A brown lawn in a hot dry summer does not mean the grass is dead – it’s only dormant.  There is a small part of the plant, called the crown, that is still alive and after rainfall the grass will green up in one to two weeks.”
Quinte Conservation reminds the public that fires are not allowed at local conservation areas.
The local environmental agency will continue to monitor precipitation and stream flows and provide updates.  Quinte Conservation encourages everyone to use water wisely and apply water conservation measures.  Tips on water conservation can be found on the Quinte Conservation website at www.quinteconservation.ca.
Quinte Conservation is the lead for the local Water Response Team (WRT) for all of Prince Edward County and the watersheds of the Moira, Napanee and Salmon Rivers. The team includes representation from municipalities, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, and local industry. The WRT is formed when the watershed is in a Level 1 condition. Water Response Teams monitor local conditions carefully and work with local water users to reduce demand and mitigate the effects of water shortages.
Quinte Conservation is a community-based environmental protection agency.  It serves 18 municipalities in the watersheds of the Moira, Napanee and Salmon Rivers and Prince Edward County.  It provides cost-effective environmental expertise and leadership.  Quinte Conservation’s main goal is to create a sustainable ecosystem where people and nature live in harmony.  More information about Quinte Conservation is available at www.quinteconservation.ca.


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