Gathering data on drought 0
CYNDI MILLS At the recent Whitewater township council meeting, council talked about the Level 2 low water conditions and the Water Response Team. Township Mayor Jim Labow, left, and Dean Sauriol, chief administrative officer, right, listened to councillors and managers regarding this year’s drought.
The Township of Whitewater is joining two other municipalities in collecting information regarding this summer’s drought.
In a memo to the Whitewater council, municipal treasurer Annette Mantifel and municipal member of Renfrew County’s Water Response Team (WTR), told council “two local municipalities reported their actions taken to gather documentation concerning the low water conditions and impacts in their area.”
At the team’s recent meeting on July 23, the Township of Bonnechere Valley reported it was in the process of calling area farmers, businesses and residents to gather information. Also at the meeting, the Township of Admaston/Bromley reported it has distributed the data collection spreadsheet and cover letter to locations throughout its municipality.
“At the meeting the data collection spreadsheet was discussed and suggestions were made for revisions to assist with the data collection,” Ms. Mantifel said.
Whitewater township is also now in the process of collecting data. At the fire department’s booth at the Beachburg Fair, the township made available a cover letter and spreadsheet for its community members to fill out.
The cover letter provides information regarding Level 3 low water conditions.
In the letter it read “as part of the actions required in declaring a Level 3 low water conditions, documentation must be provided indicating water conservation and reduction efforts taken a well as any significant social, environmental and economic impacts arising from low water conditions.”
The letter also lists examples of social impacts, such as wells drying up, and the impact on recreation activities, like boating and camping. In regards to economic impacts the list includes loss of crops, reduction in production, the effects of the fire ban on tourism, and effects of low water on water power producers. Environmental impact could include how this year’s lack of rain has affected wetlands and fisheries.
Residents in all three townships are asked to fill out the forms and return them to their municipal offices.
The Water Response team was created by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) as a result of the Level 1 low water conditions declared at the beginning of summer.
The team consists of all municipalities within the County of Renfrew including members from several departments within the county, representatives from the MNR, Ministry of Environment, Municipal Affairs and Housing, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Renfrew County Health Unit, the Clean Water Agency, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the National Farmers Union and power generation organizations.
“The purpose of the WRT is to identify, measure and monitor water supply and requirements, identify the severity of low water conditions, implement water conservation and preservation strategies, evaluate local actions and provide advice to local and provincial decision makers,” wrote Ms. Mantifel in her memo.
At this point municipalities are asking residents to voluntarily reduce water usage by 20 per cent.
And regarding the forms, Dean Sauriol, chief administrative officer said, “at this point we are just collecting data,” adding, “at a Level 3 there is water restrictions put in place.”
Steve Hodson, environmental services manager, said as soon as the notices to reduce water consumption went out, residents responded and the township’s overall high consumption returned to normal levels.
Cyndi Mills is Daily Observer is a multimedia journalist