Further Water Conservation Urged Throughout Grand River Watershed 

For Immediate Release
Contact: Cam Linwood, Spokesperson, Grand River Conservation Authority 
Phone: 519-621-2763 

As the hot, dry summer continues, the push for stronger water conservation measures has now been expanded to take in the entire Grand River watershed.

The entire watershed has been declared to be in a Level 2 condition under the Ontario Low Water Response Program. The declaration was made Wednesday afternoon by the Grand River Low Water Response team.

This means that all water users throughout the watershed on both municipal and private water supplies should voluntarily reduce consumption by 20 percent, in particular by eliminating non-essential water use like lawn watering and car washing. It is important to keep these limited water supplies available for essential human health, agricultural and ecological needs.

Until this week, a Level 2 condition only applied in select watersheds, notably the Whitemans and McKenzie Creek subwatersheds.

The rest of the watershed has been in a Level 1 condition since June 29, where water users were asked to cut consumption by 10 per cent.

However, the continuing dry weather means that stronger water conservation measures are needed in the rest of the watershed, as well.

The Grand River watershed was last declared to be in a level 2 condition in 2012. Hot, dry conditions that summer were similar to those being experienced this year. Parts of the watershed have received more than 100mm less than the average precipitation over the past three months.

The large reservoirs are slightly below their normal operating range. If high evaporation and low inflows continue into the fall, discharge from these reservoirs may need to be adjusted, resulting in a further reduction of river flows.

Augmentation from the reservoirs currently accounts for approximately 95% of the flow through Kitchener, 50% of the flow through Brantford and about 75% of the flow through Guelph. Water from these reservoirs is used to meet flow targets at key locations to ensure the proper operation of municipal drinking water and sewage treatment plants. The Region of Waterloo, City of Brantford and Six Nations Territory take some or all of their drinking water from the Grand. In addition, about 30 sewage treatment plants discharge treated effluent into the Grand River or its tributaries.

Weather forecasts call for some rainfall later this week which could have a limited impact on river levels if it comes to pass. It is difficult to forecast how much of that will end up in the reservoirs and river system because of very dry soil conditions and higher than normal rates of evaporation due to the dry weather.

The shortage of widespread rain this year has been so significant, and the impact on the water systems so severe, that conservation measures will likely remain in place the rest of the summer, even if there were a return to more normal rainfall.

Tips for conserving water

  • The most significant action that residents can take to conserve water is to limit lawn watering and other outdoor water uses in line with local bylaws, even if they have private water sources.
  • For farmers, information on irrigation techniques is available from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture fact sheet “How to Prepare for Irrigation During Water Shortages.” It’s available on the GRCA website under Low Water Response: Taking Action or on the ministry website
  • Actions that can be taken by other water users, such as golf courses and aggregate operators, is available on the GRCA website in the document “Suggested Actions for Major Water Users
  • Other water conservation tips and information can be found on the GRCA website at in the Low Water Response section.