Posted: Oct 10, 2012 7:44 AM AT
While the streams are running again on the Witner River watershed it is all surface water, says Bruce Smith. The springs are still dry. While the streams are running again on the Witner River watershed it is all surface water, says Bruce Smith. The springs are still dry. (CBC)
The wettest month ever recorded at Charlottetown Airport and rain that has continued into October has not been enough to replenish Charlottetown’s main source of water.
Water should be bubbling up here, at one of the three main springs feeding the Winter River, but despite the rain it remains dry.Water should be bubbling up here, at one of the three main springs feeding the Winter River, but despite the rain it remains dry. (CBC)
The city get virtually all its water from the Winter River watershed. A drought that lasted from May through August led to worries that water source was being over-used. The Brackley branch of the Winter River ran dry in July, and the Cudmore branch did the same in August.
Environment Canada warned the city it was drawing too much from the watershed, and the city introduced water use restrictions for the month of September.
But with September came record rainfalls, and the hope that perhaps the worst of the problem was over.
Bruce Smith, co-ordinator of the Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association, was walking through the forest around the watershed Tuesday, looking for signs of rejuvenation of the water table. Unfortunately, he did not find what he was hoping for.
“We had been hoping that if the springs were flowing and fish could make it up we’d be able to overcome the fact that it had gone dry,” said Smith.
But while the streams are running, Smith found it is all due to surface water. The springs themselves, the key source of water in the area, are still dry.
“Really we needed that amount of water over a much longer period of time to let it gradually get down to the water table,” he said.
At this time of year fish should be spawning in the upper reaches of the Winter River, but that’s not possible with the springs flowing.
“Basically it means we’ve lost a year,” said Smith.
“There won’t be any trout born in this section. Other trout will likely move in but, it’s a loss of habitat.”
Smith said the kind of restrictions that the city put in place in September are a start, but they won’t solve the problem.
The city has a plan to open a new well field in Miltonvale Park in 2015, but still needs to find the money for it.
“We’re looking and have been planning for a number of years to develop a new water supply,” said Craig Walker, manager of the Charlottetown Water and Sewer Utility.
“Right now we know what we need to do we know where it is, and it’s a funding requirement that we have to now to put in place.”
Charlottetown MP Sean Casey will join in on the water debate Wednesday with a public meeting on water conservation. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at The Guild in Charlottetown.