Our Water Levels are Dropping
On June 15, TSW released its first weekly Drawdown Forecast of the season. It indicates that over the next two weeks our water level will drop an additional 29 cms or more than 11 inches.
The water level on the Mississagua chain of lakes, including Catchacoma, was at its full level in May, however since early June the level has been dropping and TSW has begun its seasonal drawdown of reservoirs. The Trent-Severn Waterway (TSW) water management team has continuously adjusted the logs in the dam to manage our lake level while providing the required flow to the Mississagua River.
However we are experiencing one of the driest seasons in the last 50 years. Seven of the last nine months have seen below average precipitation amounts, and in May we received only 29% of the normal amount of rain. Without really significant rainfall amounts above normal there is a real risk we will see very low water levels this summer.
Many large reservoirs north of us did not reach their full levels in spring and are well below normal seasonal levels now. The Kawartha lakes, the connecting Canal sections and the downstream waterway are all at levels to support navigation. Since April TSW has implemented water conservation measures in the Kawartha Lakes and downstream with the flow on the Otonabee River in Peterborough at its minimum.
Over the recent weeks we have seen several significant rainfall events pass south of us or far to the north. Recent spotty thunderstorm activity is not nearly enough to offset the dought conditions. Without significant rainfall over the entire upper Trent River area, TSW has had to begin drawing water from the reservoirs earlier than normal. The long established policy is that water is drawn on an equal percent basis so reservoirs that were at their full levels like Mississagua and Anstruther are being drawn on more heavily. Each week TSW publishes a drawdown forecast which projects water level changes for a two week period.
So while our water level experience this spring was good we desperately need significant rainfall across the system to raise levels in all of the reservoirs so that we can return to normal water levels through the summer and avoid extremely low levels.
CCA has information on our website regarding how to get and interpret the latest information on water levels. We recommend that readers refer to the website CEWF.CA where you will find the latest information from TSW including the weekly drawdown forecast, and links to the TSW website.
– Ted Spence, CCA Lake Steward and CEWF Chair