Driest year ever worries Ottawa-area farmers

This last year's weather was the driest in the National Capital Region's history, according to Environment Canada, which is worrying some farmers as drought conditions continue.

Past 12 months driest on record in Ottawa, according to Environment Canada spokesman

Some Ottawa-area farmers are worried as drought conditions continue in Ottawa. 3:02

The past 12 months have been the driest on record in the National Capital Region, according to an Environment Canada spokesman, which is worrying some farmers as drought conditions continue.

Lawns throughout the National Capital Region are turning brown as level one drought conditions continue in the Rideau Valley watershed. (CBC)

Last week the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority said Ottawa is experiencing a Level One drought, the least severe of three levels.

An update on the situation is expected this week and the forecast so far calls for no rain in the coming days.

David Phillips, a spokesman for Environment Canada, suggested the last year has been the warmest and driest in recorded history and there would not be a reprieve until after Labour Day.

Preserving moisture

Peter Ruiter, who has been growing corn in south Ottawa for 22 years, said his plants are trying to preserve moisture as they enter the production stage.

"It's all just curling up, and what it's trying to do there is preserve moisture," Ruiter said. "If you look at the ground, you can see it just drying out."

Ruiter said most of his crop has been sold in advance, and if he can't produce it all he'll have to buy the difference to meet the demand.

"I've seen it worse, but right now it's pretty critical," he said. "I'm hoping, hoping and praying, that we get some rain."

Water plants, not lawns, says expert

Gardening expert Ed Lawrence said it's important to water plants, but he added that brown lawns aren't anything to worry about.

South Ottawa corn farmer Peter Ruiter says he might have to buy corn to sell to customers if his crops don't produce enough. (CBC)

He said lawns turn brown when they go into dormancy, but water will bring them back.

As for plants, rain barrels and saving dish water and bath water can help if the city imposes a watering ban. No such watering ban has yet been issued.

The Rideau River is experiencing its lowest water level in 66 years.

Meanwhile, water levels and flows are well below average on the main stem of the Ottawa River from Pembroke down to the Montreal region, according to the conservation authority.

"Below normal precipitation during the past three months combined with the earliest spring freshet (thaw) on record are the main reasons for below average water levels and flows throughout the Ottawa River watershed," the authority said in a news release.

"Although absolute record low flows have not yet been reached, record low flows have been observed on most of the main tributaries of the Ottawa River for this time of the year."

The authority said water from northern reservoirs is being used to help flows.