Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia drought unusual, catches people unprepared

A specialist with Canadian Drought Monitor says Nova Scotia so rarely experiences drought that few people prepare for it.

'People aren't as familiar with managing through drought situations'

Drought is so rare in Nova Scotia that few people are prepared for it says a specialist with the Canadian Drought Monitor. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)

The severe drought affecting parts of Nova Scotia may be causing more trouble than it would elsewhere in Canada because Nova Scotians aren't used to drought conditions. 

For more than a month now, people in the southwest have reported dry wells and throughout the province, rivers and lakes are low. Local governments have offered drinking water and places to bathe while ecologists are worried about fish and other species.

The severe drought, as it's classified, is unusual in this part of Canada said agriclimate specialist Trevor Hadwen. He said generally these types of dry conditions happen a lot more frequently and more severely in other parts of the country.

'They prepare for it'

Hadwen leads the Canadian Drought Monitor, Agriculture Canada's contribution to a continent wide tracking program of drought conditions.

Right now, his program is watching Nova Scotia's struggles carefully. It's one of three provinces experiencing a drought, the others are Ontario and British Columbia, he said.

A volunteer firefighter in Port Medway, N.S. checks water levels in a local well. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

"Typically in the prairie region, farmers and residents in rural areas are used to dealing with these circumstances, so they prepare for it," Hadwen said.

"In situations where we have drought in Atlantic Canada, there aren't the same systems in place and people aren't as familiar with managing through drought situations, so the impacts can be fairly severe."

'Rare situation'

Yarmouth County for instance, experienced its driest summer since 1880, said CBC meteorologist Kalin Mitchell.

Some people in Nova Scotia are digging deeper wells hoping they will be able to get at more water. (Eric Woolliscroft/CBC)

The low water levels even forced some homeowners to dig deeper wells

"It's a rare situation for sure," he said.

Help drought response

Hadwen encourages farmers and homeowners to contact Drought Watch to report the impacts of drought. The program collects reports from people all across Canada, but historically, have collected few reports from Nova Scotia. 

"To know the actual impacts on the ground and how that is affecting the producers or people is extremely important for us, in terms of putting together programs and responses to that drought," Hadwen said.


Rachel Ward


Rachel Ward is a journalist with The Fifth Estate. You can reach her with questions or story ideas at