Drought set to get worse before it gets better
The continuing lack of rain in the region has made grass, trees and other vegetation tinder-dry, with things set to get worse before they get better.
There are varying degrees of fire bans across the region – from full bans in the Leeds, Thousand Islands and Elizabethtown-Kitley areas to an “extreme” risk of fire in Gatineau Park.
The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority appears set to move its drought level to Level 2 on Friday, meaning areas along the Rideau Valley watershed would be asked to cut water use by 20 per cent.
It would be the first time in about ten years this level of drought, declared when water levels fall between 40 and 60 per cent of normal levels, is reached.
Mel Foster said he looked at the effect weeks of near-constant heat was having on his crops and had to make a drastic move to save them.
“This is the first time we've had to irrigate vegetables ever, in more than 40 years,” said the veteran of Foster Family Farm south of Ottawa.
“We could already see some stress on the plants, leaf lettuce and spinach were yellowing and browning.”
Jack Dekok said he also has an irrigation system for his crops, but it’s not the same as rain.
“With the strawberries and raspberries, this is the worst it’s been in years . . . this year we're hurting,” he said.
“I’m really hoping for rain, I need at least three to four days of steady rain.”
The sun has also ripened his corn crop early, meaning it’s smaller than normal.
Environment Canada says there is normally around 90 millimetres of rain in the capital region from the middle of June to mid-July.
This year, 24.1 millimetres has fallen in that timeframe, making this the driest June to July in 50 years.
Take that frame of reference and stretch it through a full 12 months, and the area’s 723 millimetres of rain is almost 200 millimetres below the average level of precipitation.
The long-term forecast shows showers are expected on Sunday, over three weeks since the last rainfall on June 23.
- With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Claudia Cautillo