Quinte News has learned that Prince Edward County is in the process of ensuring local farmers have access to bulk potable water to give their livestock after municipal restrictions cut them off from Roblin Lake in Ameliasburgh.
As we reported earlier, on Tuesday night several farmers showed up to council to voice concerns over being forced to spend hours traveling to other water sources to adhere to bylaws surrounding water conservation measures.
One of those farmers who was prepared to speak was John Thompson, president of the Prince Edward Federation of Agriculture.
He sent what he planned to present in his deputation, to council and Quinte News in an email Thursday morning.
“We have found that farmers in the area of Roblin Lake do not have enough time in the day to obtain the required quantity of water from more distant locations,” wrote Thompson. Furthermore, the water quality in the Bay of Quinte may not meet the required standards for livestock health and food safety. Therefore, they would find themselves in violation of both Federal and Provincial laws and regulations in terms of animal care and food safety if they were sourcing their water with tractors and wagons from further away. Extra hours per day also puts human health and safety at risk. Municipal prohibitions which have been made in haste without any requested consultation and of questionable legality can not supersede the Federal and Provincial laws and regulations in terms of animal care and food safety.” To read the full depitation click here.
Thursday afternoon an email was sent to County staff from Commissioner of Engineering, Development and Public Works Robert McAuley that stated a self-built portable bulk water dispensing unit is completed and awaiting electrical inspection.
“Given the concerns raised by the farmers who use Roblin Lake I have asked for this unit to be installed at the old Consecon fire hall instead of the old Wellington Arena,” McAuley wrote.
The email goes on to say, “the City of Quinte West has agreed to temporarily permit us to make bulk water available from the Carrying Place/Consecon watermain for use outside of the agreed service area. The new dispenser is coin operated and only 1” size, so filling the farm size tanks will take some time, but this is the best we can provide them for an alternate municipal water source at this time. We’re having a second portable unit built to place in Wellington, which should be ready in about three weeks. Once the new unit is operational, expected mid-next week, we will be issuing a PSA to advise the public of the new bulk water dispensing location.”
“I don’t think that will be a feasible solution for farm sized tanks because it will take so long to get there and the fill time will take too long,” Thompson responded.
He said farmers aren’t really left with any other choice than to continue to go to Roblin Lake to fill their tanks – an offense that could see up to $1,000 fine.
Quinte News is still awaiting further comment from Quinte Conservation about municipal restrictions on taking bulk water from Roblin Lake to give livestock and whether or not they consider it an essential use.
An email obtained by Quinte News penned by Quinte Conservation General Manager Terry Murphy to County council and staff stated, “reducing the non essential use of water from all sources is very important until we get enough rain to get us out of level 3. The Roblin Lake situation is unique, we support the overall efforts the County has taken but want to make it very clear that QC did not recommend the restrictions that were put on water taking from the lake. It is my opinion that using water to keep livestock alive is an essential use, allowing people to water lawns is not essential, should be no watering of lawns ( not even on alternate days). If farmers were allowed to take water for livestock and the levels in the lake are monitored to insure that the levels do not go below a level that impacts the intake for the community an agreement could be put in place whereby when the levels get to (level to be determined) no water taking will be allowed.” (In the email Murphy stated this is strictly his opinion and not an official comment on behalf of Quinte Conservation).
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.
Meanwhile, a diver will be inspecting Roblin lake on Monday and measuring the surface and intake levels. A meeting between mayor Robert Quaiff, Chief Administrative Officer James Hepburn and McAuley will follow to discuss next steps.