Low Water Response
Drought-like conditions in Ontario in the late 1990s prompted the province to develop the Ontario Low Water Response Plan (OLWR). The OLWR is a mitigation programs under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
This plan allows for Conservation Authorities to establish a watershed based Water Response Team.
This team consists of agriculture, industry and business, recreation and government representatives from the Saugeen watershed. The team assesses precipitation and streamflow conditions during drought conditions and decides on the appropriate level of action(s).
Response or actions could range from news bulletins, that advocate water conservation, to making recommendations to the province concerning water allocations and water use restrictions.
A watershed is considered to be in drought conditions if it is experiencing:
- below normal levels of precipitation over an extended period of time
- streamflows that are at a minimum required to sustain aquatic life
- low water conditions that are causing socio-economic effects
The response plan outlines three levels of drought:
Level I - Initial Water Use Conservation: (First indication of a water supply problem)
- Precipitation: <80% of average
- Streamflow: <70% lowest average summer monthly flow
- Emphasize the need for water conservation with a target reduction in water use of 10%.
Level II - Conservation and Restrictions on Non-Essential Use: (Indicates potential for serious water supply problems)
- Precipitation: <60% of average weeks <7.6 mm
- Streamflow: <50% lowest average summer monthly flow
- Conservation and restrictions on non-essential use
- Water users will be asked to reduce water usage by 20% (in total) or greater
Level III - Conservation, Restriction and Regulation: (Indicates failure of water supply to meet the demand, resulting in progressively more sever and wide spread socioeconomic effects as watershed conditions continue to worsen)
- Precipitation: <40% of average
- Streamflow: <30% lowest average summer monthly flow
- Water conservation measures have not produced the necessary response. Restrictions proposed by Water Response Team and approved by Province, will be put into action. This may result in watershed restrictions affecting a range of small and large water users.