The City of Charlottetown has turned to what has been considered an emergency water source to avoid overdrawing on its main supply in the Winter River watershed.

Last summer Environment Canada told the city it was taking too much water from the Winter River watershed. Some streams in the watershed dried up entirely.


Conservation measures being put in place by city hall are working, says Ramona Doyle. (CBC)

The city was far from exceeding its annual limit under its provincial permit in 2012, but in July did draw more than a prorated monthly value.

It avoided that in August 2012 by sharply increasing the amount of water it drew from a secondary source at Malpeque. With water use in the city down less than one per cent this July over last year, it turned to the Malpeque station again.

"There's not a big difference between the total amount of water demand that we're seeing," said Ramona Doyle, projects officer with Charlottetown Water and Sewer Utility.

"It's that the distribution of where that water is coming from has changed."

The city has implemented some water use restrictions, and is encouraging conservation. Doyle said while it may appear that is having little effect, the city believes it is making a difference.

"While there is a lot of uptake for the conservation, the city does continue to grow, and demand continues to increase. So we are offsetting some of that demand," said Doyle.

The city drew six per cent less water from the Winter River this July, but eight times as much from the Malpeque station.

But Bruce Smith, coordinator of the Winter River Watershed Association, said the same streams that dried up last year, are running dry this summer too.

"In spite of the fact that they've reduced what's coming out of Winter River as a whole, we still feel that it's above what is sustainable," said Smith.

The city said demand seems to be down so far in August, so there's no need to step up water restrictions yet.

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