Low water conditions and assessment

Quinte Conservation uses the Ontario Low Water Response program to determine current low water conditions. We coordinate the Water Response Team which is made up of local water users, Provincial Ministries, and municipalities. Quinte Conservation assesses low water conditions using precipitation and stream flow indicators. The Water Response Team share information on current conditions, determine the low water conditions, and they make recommendations for water users.

Low water conditions are ranked as Level 1, 2, or 3 based on extended periods of low flow or precipitation. A Level 1 condition is the least severe and Level 3 is the most severe.

A Level 1 Low Water Condition means that there is the potential for water supply problems. It is managed through existing programs of Conservation Authorities, municipalities, and provincial agencies. The focus is water conservation. A 10% reduction in water use is requested.

A Level 2 Low Water Condition indicates a potentially serious water supply problem. Often minor supplies issues have occurred and there is potential for major supply problems. Non-essential water use should be reduced. A 20% reduction in water use is requested.

A Level 3 Low Water Condition indicates a failure of the water supply to meet the demand. Restrictions on water use may be imposed by municipalities or under the Water Resources Act. A 30% reduction or more in water consumption is requested.

Our water levels page and water levels viewer show the current conditions. Our low water messages provide the most up-to-date information on low water conditions.

What you can do for low water periods

People who rely on water from vulnerable sources should prepare for low water conditions.

We have helpful tips on how you can conserve water on your property. The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks has information on managing your water well in times of water shortage.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs have resources for farmers affected by dry conditions and low water.

Our low water reporting form is a confidential way to share how drought affects you.

Why does drought impact the Quinte Conservation watershed?

Groundwater supply in the Quinte watershed comes from shallow, fractured bedrock aquifers. The fractures provide a small space for groundwater storage. The groundwater needs regular rainfall to maintain this supply.

Small creeks and streams require regular rainfall to maintain water flow.

Long periods without rain affect the large rivers. In some cases, the lakes behind our dams can be used to provide some flow downstream.

Learn more about local water supplies and water use in the Quinte Region Water Budget.

Concerns with water use and what other agencies are doing

Our staff cannot enforce water use.

Check with your municipality to see if there are by-laws for water use during the dry periods of the summer. Drought Management Plans help municipalities prepare for drought.

Large water users, who use more than 50,000 litres of water a day, require a Permit to Take Water from the Ontario Ministry of Conservation and Parks. Contact the local Ministry of Conservation and Parks if you have concerns with a large water taker.