Dry conditions a concern for homeowners and a worry for farmers and firefighters

A heat wave continues for much of Eastern Ontario including here in Ottawa and Gatineau. But you don't need Environment Canada to tell you that. Just take a look at most lawns around town and that will tell the tale. It seems as though we all wished too hard for that cold wet spring to stop and stop it did.  We haven't had any significant rainfall in more than a month with no end in sight.

Ottawa homeowner Mandy Bell knows her grass crunches when she walks on it.  Her perennials seem to be surviving this sustained heat, but her lawn? That's another issue.

“I'm going to let it go, let nature take care of it,” says Bell, “No sprinklers here, just ride it out.”

“As you can see around the neighborhood, everything is parched,” adds neighbor Frank Dalton, “absolutely parched.”

Trish Hoes, on the other hand, has invested too much money to let her plants die. 

“It hasn't been too bad,” says Hoes, “I’ve been on rotation basis. Once a week, every section gets a good soak.”

The good thing is that grass goes dormant and it will come back. 

But when your livelihood depends on your plants, this kind of weather is costing money.

“If you've noticed, these berries are small,” says Gerry Rochon, of Rochon Gardens in Edwards, as he walks through one of his strawberry patches. 

The strawberries in that patch should be lush and red right now and ready to pick but that particular field is too far from a water source to irrigate so the berries are done.

Rochon has irrigated his cauliflower, broccoli and tomatoes but has lost about $20,000 on that field of strawberries

“All because of the drought,” he says, “It’s just too dry this year.  We need rain desperately. If we don't get rain without the next two weeks, I don’t know.Even other growers are having the same issue, cash croppers, wheat growers. Everyone is having a hard time this year in Eastern Ontario.”

It is dry outside the city and dry inside, too.  The potential for grass fires is huge.

That's what happened at the Niagara Lavender Festival yesterday when a grass fire scorched dozens of cars.  Ottawa Fire is reminding people of an agricultural and recreational burn ban in place and of the need to discard cigarettes butts in deep ashtrays and not planters or gardens.

“Luckily everyone has been cooperative,” says Danielle Cardinal with Ottawa Fire Services, “We’ve had people step forward to say we've found a fire along walking trails and places like that  and those are areas that aren't so clear for us to see so we appreciate people letting us know so we can put them out before they spread.

The city of Ottawa is monitoring the situation but says currently, residents that are supplied by the City’s drinking water system are not impacted by low water levels.
"The City of Ottawa’s central drinking water system draws water from the Ottawa River, with a daily water demand of approximately 300 Million Litres per day. This represents less than 1% of the Ottawa River flow," says Ian Douglas, Water Quality Engineer with Water Services for the city of Ottawa."  All of the City’s municipal well systems draw on deep aquifers and are currently not impacted by the drought conditions. Water use for these systems remains well within the City’s permitted water use.
Residents on private well systems could be impacted by drought conditions and should respect the advice of their local conservation authority. The City of Ottawa will continue to monitor the situation and advise further if conditions change.”