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Water conservation urged in Grand watershed

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

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The Grand River Conservation Authority says that low rainfall since mid-April has contributed to reduced stream flows in a number of tributaries throughout the watershed. The GRCA said it is using its large upstream reservoirs to augment river flows to maintain low flow targets on the Grand and Speed rivers.

The call for the reduction came from the Grand River low water response team, which held a virtual meeting on June 1. The team comprises representatives of major water users, including municipalities, farmers, golf course operators, water bottlers, aggregate businesses and others. The team decided 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. The GRCA said residents should follow their municipal outdoor water use bylaws, which limit watering to specific days and times.

The Grand watershed received less than half of the normal amount of precipitation typically expected in May. There is some rain in the forecast, but expected precipitation amounts are fairly low. The GRCA noted that the dry conditions, combined with diminishing river and stream flows can place stress on the natural environment in the Grand River and its tributaries.

The GRCA said its large reservoirs are within their normal operating range for this time of year, but increased discharges to maintain flow targets, coupled with high evaporation and low inflows means water levels will continue to drop.

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Over the past week, augmentation from GRCA reservoirs accounted for approximately 60 per cent of the flow in the Grand through Kitchener, 25 per cent of the flow through Brantford and about 35 per cent of the Speed flow through Guelph, said the GRCA.

“This augmentation helps municipalities that get some, or all of their drinking water from the Grand River, including Waterloo Region, Brantford and Six Nations. Water from these reservoirs also support the proper operation of about 30 wastewater 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 at www.grandriver.ca.

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