“Wet Winter”…AND a Level 2 Drought? What can we do?

Precipitation records have been SHATTERED for the Peterborough Region this January and February.

It certainly was a “wet winter”!

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But even with all this rainfall …We are still in a drought!!!!

Remember those hot summer August days in 2016?  Well, The Greater Peterborough Area is still feeling the aftermath of those harsh dry weather conditions.

In fact, the region is actually in a “Level 2 Drought”.

Droughts, which are below-normal levels of water in rivers, lakes and groundwater, are one of the many negative consequences of climate change. 

This is causing problems for areas in the Greater Peterborough Area, such as:

  • Crop losses
  • Water shortages
  • Dry wells
  • Lack of soil moisture in farming areas

Even with our “wet winter”, most of the water we HAVE been getting has not been enough to penetrate the frozen ground .

According to the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority, 2016 was the driest summer in the region…EVER….…making the drought even worse.

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BUT!!! We like discussing good news ….

So we headed to a workshop at the Duoro Community Centre. Many groups gathered together to answer the question:  How Can the Agricultural Community Adapt to Drought?

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The Greater Peterborough Climate Change Action Plan has already planned and outlined some specific local actions to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the negative effects of climate change.

Here are a few:

  • Encourage local food production
  • Identify ways to adapt to climate change
  • Prepare for risks that droughts might bring in the future

Some of the other presenters touched on really important topics, such as the current watershed conditions, pond constructions on farms, and how to manage the water you have effectively. Others discussed farming education, grant opportunities, and feeding strategies for livestock!

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One of the key points from the meeting was that because this Level 2 Drought status has not been lifted, it is REALLY IMPORTANT to cut back any non-essentialuse of water by 20%!

There are many important things to take into consideration when trying to conserve water at your home. In fact, there are many Random Acts of Green YOU can do to conserve water.

Here are a few Random Acts of Green YOU can start doing TODAY:

  • You can fix any leaky faucets or taps.
  • You can turn off the tap while brushing your teeth.
  • You can use a rain barrel when you are watering your plants.
  • You can install low-flow showerheads, adjustable hose nozzles, and low flush toilets in your home.
  • You can take showers instead of a bath!
  • You can use a bucket & sponge instead of a hose when washing your car

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Remember…

Climate change IS affecting us..but there ARE things you can do!

Here are some key take home messages from the presenters:

John Warbick (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs):“You can better understand your water supply by doing some simple monitoring and creating a plan that prevents you from running out of water.”

Paul Reeds (Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association): “The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement association delivers free educational workshops identifying best management practices on key areas of farm businesses. The cost share grants in the programs provide an incentive to farmers to make improvements where farmer’s choose to improve their businesses for greater profitability and reduced risk.”

Anita Heeg (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) “Alternative feeds can be an effective way to stretch forages and provide nutritional needs for livestock when supplemented appropriately. In addition, nutritional analysis of alternative feeds can provide important information that can bring along cost effective, nutritional and functional benefits.”

Bill Adam  (AgriCorp) – “The extreme weather is why farmers use crop insurance annually. Insurance does not provide a profit  but it helps producers stay alive to fight another day. We are proud to fulfill this role in this extreme weather year .”

Erin McGauley (Otonabee Conservation) – “Ponds are popular features on rural properties and can be a great insurance policy for drought. Isolated ponds hold water for livestock watering and irrigation and can help absorb flood waters during extreme weather events.”

Meredith Carter: “Enhancing farm property through stewardship makes sense, and doesn’t have to be expensive thanks to the East Central Farm Stewardship Collaborative (ECFSC).  The ECFSC includes 11 partners that work together to assist farm owners and operators to secure funding and technical support to enhance habitat, restore wetlands, install stream crossings, alternate watering systems and other projects.  Visit:  ecfarmstewardship.org for more information.”

Greg Faaren (Ministry of Environment and Climate Change) : The ministry encourages farm operators to have an integrated and sustainable water supply system in place for their farms, and that they should do so prior to a drought season. Ministry staff also encourage farm operators to contact the appropriate agencies for advice or guidance before undertaking water management projects, including the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to determine if their project requires a Permit To Take Water.

Gordon Earle: (Otonabee Region) The meteorological record for Peterborough dates to 1866. When comparing 2016 with the historical record of precipitation receipts, there was no single month, two-month, three-month or even four-month period during 2016 that was the driest on record. How dry conditions got in 2016 is best seen by looking at the total precipitation receipts during the 5-month period of April through August, 2016, which was the driest April-May-June-July-August in Peterborough’s meteorological record, a record that dates back to 1866, and in addition, the 6-month period April through September, which is the second driest April to September, exceeded only in 1887.

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