Summer drought threatens turtles, frogs, backyard rinks this winter
Several watersheds in Eastern Ontario still experiencing 'severe' drought conditions
The cool, wet weather we've experienced during the past few weeks hasn't erased the effects of this summer's severe drought in Eastern Ontario. Now conservation authorities are warning there could be an impact on everything from frogs and turtles, to your backyard hockey rink.
Both the Rideau Valley and Mississippi Valley conservation authorities have kept their current drought status at "severe," where it has been since the summer.
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Groundwater levels have still not recovered, prompting officials to warn people who rely on wells to think twice before turning on the hose and building a backyard hockey rink.
"You have to take precautions that you don't use your water for something that you may regret later because your well goes dry," said Gord Mountenay, a water management supervisor with the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority.
Well could stay dry through winter
There are similar concerns down the highway in Kingston, Ont., which saw its driest summer since the 1880s.
Dozens of households reported dry wells, and conservation officials say people whose wells have not recovered may need to consider spending thousands of dollars to build water storage tanks for the winter.
"If the ground water levels stay low through the winter ... those wells that are dry, stay dry though the winter, there's no infiltration happening once the ground is frozen," said Sean Watt, with the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority.
Streams, rivers, may freeze to the bottom
Water levels in area streams and rivers are still below normal, and conservation officials say there's a risk that some waterways might freeze right to the bottom this winter.
That doesn't bode well for frogs and turtles, according to Mountenay.
"There are issues with amphibians that are burrowing into the mud on the shore lines, whether or not the water will continue to drop, and it could be an issue for them," said Mountenay.
The creatures tend to burrow in the mud underneath the water surface where ice usually can't reach them.
Conservation officials are hoping that a warm, wet fall may help water levels to rebound before winter arrives.