A group of Prince Edward County farmers are frustrated with municipal restrictions preventing them from taking bulk water out of Roblin Lake in Ameliasburgh to give to their livestock.
Water conservation bylaws took effect in the County on August 12, in response to severe drought conditions where Quinte Conservation issued a Level 3 Low Water Condition requesting area residents reduce consumption and non-essential use by 50 percent.
Non-essential use such as watering or sprinkling lawns, gardens, trees, shrubs, or vegetation; washing vehicles, driveways or buildings and filling or topping up swimming pools is restricted in the County to certain days and times. Anyone caught watering at improper times could face a $1,000 fine. (See below for more details.)
At the beginning of Tuesday night’s council meeting, Ameliasburgh ward councillor Janice Maynard made a failed attempt at getting a motion on the agenda for council to reconsider the bylaws and hear the farmers’ concerns. In a recorded vote, council voted 10-6 in favour of the reconsideration, however two thirds (11 councillors) of council support was needed to get the motion on the floor.
Dale Wood is a sixth generation dairy farmer on Salem Road whose family has taken water out of the lake for 50 to 60 years to give their livestock. In an interview, the long time Ameliasburgh resident told Quinte News he was quite upset that he and other farmers weren’t given an opportunity to speak to council.
Farmers have the option to travel to Novotny Court in Consecon, the Rossmore boat ramp or Weller’s Bay to get bulk water.
According to Quinte Conservation’s bathymetry, the lake is 50 ft deep (15m). An email obtained by Quinte News written by Commissioner of Engineering, Development and Works Robert McAuley to staff showed the normal water level over top of the intake pipe itself is approximately 2.89m. Based on the most recent measurement there is 1.57m of water over top of the intake crib structure. It’s not regulated, but the pump manufacturer indicates a critical minimum water level of 1.2m over the intake pipe is needed to prevent a suction vortex from happening.
The email goes on to say Quinte Conservation did a water budget for Roblin Lake sub-watershed as part of the Source water Protection process. The Tier 1 water budget identified the sub-watershed as having potential water quantity stress. This required the sub-watershed to be elevated to a Tier 2 level, whereby additional work and models were developed to evaluate the water flow and quantity of this area. Through the tier 2 work there was no water quantity stress confirmed for Roblin Lake. Had the Tier 2 water budget confirmed water quantity stress then QCA would have had to proceed to the Tier 3 level which would have required policies in the Source Protection Plan dealing with water quantity threats. “After this year’s drought and the depth issues we’re experiencing, QCA agrees that the water budget for Roblin Lake should be re-visited.”
Quinte News has reached out to Quinte Conservation for further comment.
In an interview, councillor Maynard said while the water levels are low in Roblin Lake, there is enough capacity above the intake pipe to allow for what local farmers need. She explained calculations show farmers are pulling about 25,000 gallons a week and based on the surface of the lake it works out to a half of a millimeter of water per week.
Mayor Robert Quaiff voted in opposition of the reconsideration. He said there wasn’t enough information brought to the horseshoe ahead of Tuesday’s meeting for council to make an educated decision on the reconsideration. In his opinion, Quiaff said the only fault was a lack of communication surrounding the quick time frame in which the bylaw was enacted. A notice went out following a special meeting held on August 11 and the bylaw took effect the following day.
Quaiff said after the appropriate measurements are taken on Monday, he will sit down with Chief Administrative Officer James Hepburn and McAuley to discuss next steps.
For more information on the by-laws click here.