Charlottetown residents urged to save water amid 'very dry year'

The City of Charlottetown has lifted its annual summer water restrictions, but the group that monitors the city’s water supply is urging residents to think twice before they leave taps running.

Dry summer has caused more springs to stop flowing, says group that monitors water source

The Vanco spring near the Charlottetown airport has run dry. (Submitted by Sarah Wheatley)

The City of Charlottetown has lifted its annual summer water restrictions, but the group  that monitors the city's water supply is urging residents to think twice before they leave taps running.

"I would still always encourage that people continue to conserve water," said Sarah Wheatley, watershed coordinator for the Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association.

"Even though it feels like fall, it's a little while yet before the water table actually starts to go up."

An unusually dry summer has put a strain on the water system, she said.

May of the Charlottetown water system shows the springs that are newly dry in red, springs that are often dry in orange, one that is almost dry in yellow, and the freely flowing springs in green. The locations of Charlottetown water pumping stations are also shown. (Submitted by Sarah Wheatley)

The group has been monitoring the Winter River system for the past four years. There are two springs between the two major wellfields that go dry every year, she said. But in the past week, two springs near the Charlottetown airport have gone dry for the first time since they began monitoring them.

We saw a fish kind of splash around a little but it was stuck in that pool because there wasn't enough water for it to flow to the next pool or get somewhere safe where it wouldn't die.– Sarah Wheatley

"It's obviously a very dry year if those springs are going dry," she said.

"In a dry year it drops a little bit more, added that on top of all the water extraction that's happening in the area, then it's just too much and the water stops flowing."

When the streams get too low, it also has an effect on the local ecosystem, she said.

"We saw a fish kind of splash around a little but it was stuck in that pool because there wasn't enough water for it to flow to the next pool or get somewhere safe where it wouldn't die."

Two of the springs are still flowing "nicely," she said, but they are more than two kilometres from a high capacity well.

With files from Stephanie Kelly