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Roblin Lake water use restrictions eased

UPDATE AUG 31 – The County partially lifted the ban on the taking of bulk water from Roblin Lake on Wednesday afternoon.

County staff confirmed the current water level, 110.147 metres above sea level (MASL), is sufficient to allow additional water consumption from the lake without risking operations at the Ameliasburgh Water Treatment Plant.

Through measurements and analysis, the County has determined that water levels in Roblin Lake must remain above 109.22 MASL. Should water levels be reduced further, the water taking ban will take effect once again.

All other water use restrictions will remain in effect until the Level 3 Low Water Condition is reduced. For more information on the ongoing non-essential, outdoor water use restrictions, please visit the County website at:
http://www.pecounty.on.ca/pdf/WaterConsumptionRestrictionsQ-A.pdf

The County is in the process of installing two new bulk water dispensing units that are to be operational early next week.

One unit will be installed at the Wellington and District Community Centre, located at 111 Belleville Street, Wellington. The other unit will be installed at the Carrying Place Booster Station, located at 21651 Loyalist Parkway.

The dispensing units have 1” connections and will be coin operated. The current bulk water rate, set by council on August 11, 2016 is $3.07 per cubic metre (1000 litres).

The municipality is providing these new units in response to the ongoing drought conditions in the County, which may—according to the Quinte Conservation Authority—persist until winter.

Another public service notice will be released when the units are operational.

* * *

Diver will see if Roblin Lake level high enough for farmers to take water for their livestock

AUG 26 – The County will send a diver into Roblin Lake at Ameliasburgh to examine whether that area’s farmers can safely take bulk water for their livestock.

A group of farmers are frustrated with the municipality’s new water restriction bylaw preventing the taking of water from the lake during the current Level 3 drought that took effect August 12.

At Tuesday’s council meeting Ameliasburgh councillor Janice Maynard attempted to get a motion to reconsider the bylaw to hear farmers’ concerns. Council voted 10-6 in favour, however, two thirds of council (11) is necessary to put a motion on the floor.

John Thompson, president of the Prince Edward Federation of Agriculture, was ready to present the farmers’ concerns, but was unable to do so.

Generally, agricultural production and livestock watering are exempt from bylaws to regulate water use in rural areas, but the federation is asking for change to the restriction which prohibits taking of water from Roblin Lake while the level 3 water condition.

Thompson wants to bring forward information from Quinte Conservation that clarifies water to keep livestock alive should be considered an essential use.

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 every other day according to civic odd and even address.

Farmers who have been using Roblin Lake have been travelling to Consecon, the Rossmore boat ramp or Weller’s Bay to get bulk water.

“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,” said 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.”

Thompson said that using numbers from Quinte Conservation, calculations show the quantity of water being used by farmers calculates to .53 millimeters per week – “a very insignificant suma nd its elimination would not change any outcomes.”
The normal water level over the intake pipe is approximately 2.89m. Based on the most recent measurement, there is about 1.57m of water over top of the intake structure. The pump’s manufacturer indicates a critical minimum water level of 1.2m over the intake pipe is needed.

Mayor Robert Quaiff wants details and expects to explore further options following a report from the diver on Monday.

“Once we complete the measurement we may determine it’s ok to take water from Roblin Lake.”

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  1. Chuck says:

    So Dennis, you are pretty good at tracking the $$ on the revolving door at Shire Hall. What will it cost us for the removal of the Commissioner and the assistant a couple of days later?

  2. Susan says:

    Further, appears I was right a couple of weeks ago. Commissioner of Corporate Services is gone!

  3. Susan says:

    Hard to disagree Fred.

  4. Fred says:

    This reminds me of a Council that is over it’s head and over regulating. We have so many big issues and I won’t repeat the list. But they look to further regulate the small stuff. They tried to do it to yard sales. Now special event fees of $500 for a family wedding or picnic. And never let a song play after 11:00 pm. And a sign bylaw that restricts 25 year businesses while neighbouring property has a “huge” Tiger sign! That’s historic! Why can’t they look after helping the community rather than always finding ways to restrict us? Anyone going to monitor the music playing at Councilor Forrester’s resort? Let’s move on with the real work and leave everyday life to the residents.

  5. Dennis Fox says:

    The article explains that “the county partially lifted the ban on the taking of bulk water from Roblin Lake.” What does the word “partial” mean – can farmers take as much water as needed or not? While the article doesn’t explain, can we assume that this came about due to the diver carrying out his yearly inspection? One can only wonder on what evidence did council use to impose the ban on Roblin Lake in the first place? It wasn’t based on any recommendation from the Conservation Authority – so it remains a mystery.

  6. John Thompson says:

    The lifting of the restrictions for watering livestock, an essential use, is great news. The affected farmers and the Prince Edward Federation of Agriculture would like to thank the Councillors who were working to this end and the public at large for what seemed like overwhelming support.

  7. Dennis Fox says:

    I sent an email to my two councillors (Gale and Roberts), as well as to the mayor – asking a number of questions about this dive – including the cost. To his credit, the mayor was the only one who attempted to answer. He said that this dive was an annual inspection. He went on to claim he didn’t know how much it cost, but it is in the budget. In response to my question – how will the diver come to a conclusion and by what method? – well he didn’t know – that was Commissioner McAuley’s job. One can only wonder how council arrives at decisions from these replies. However, any idea that this dive was a special decision by council to find an answer to the water situation at Roblin Lake, should be looked upon with a keen eye. I also asked as to when will the public be informed of the results of this dive. Once the measurement is known, council will then review the situation was the reply.

  8. John Thompson says:

    I also heard from a couple of sources that this dive was just part of a long scheduled annual inspection, not an effort to find water for the local farmers.

    If the numbers in the article above are still valid, there would be 370 millimeters of water above the safe level. It would take the farmers 2 years to skim that much off but of course there will be rain and snow long before then.

  9. Chuck says:

    Most intake water supplies have sensors to identify water levels for an intake. I don’t believe municipalities rely on divers. Sounds bizarre to me.

  10. Karen says:

    I was told this was a scheduled dive that was applied for four months ago …for the YEARLY inspection of ameliasburg water system.which all water systems must do yearly. Someone is trying to make it look like they are being conscientious!!! It seems to me some people don’t tell all the truth.

  11. Chuck says:

    You shouldn’t need a diver to tell you the water level above and below your intake. That should be a known at all times.

  12. Dennis Fox says:

    At the end of this article it states that our mayor will receive a report from the diver on Monday – meaning yesterday. Does anyone know if this dive actually took place and if so, know what were the conclusions? I find all of this a bit surreal, however, I would have thought that such an investigation would have taken place prior to blocking off the farmers supply form Roblin Lake. Whatever rain we have had, certainly hasn’t changed the Level 3 warning, so what do they hope to find now, that didn’t exist before? Like many, I am waiting to see and to learn just what this diver did to come up with his report.

  13. Michael X says:

    It must be very difficult to enforce the water regulations. One of our neighbours has been pressure washing his driveway for 5 days now, and is still going strong.

  14. wevil says:

    instead of paying a diver take a stick and a canoe and go measure to the top of the intake hell of a lot cheaper

  15. John Thompson says:

    Yes Chuck, if you look at the 6 votes against and the approved plan for the next Council size and ward boundary’s, the numbers show that this debacle would not have happened were that in place now. Just an observation.

  16. Hildagard says:

    Don’t give them any ideas about that rocket ship, Mr. Fox! They’ll be trying it out!!!

  17. Chuck says:

    And should we laugh out loud about the Council size debacale and what the accepted plan will cost ratepayers to receive voter equity from the OMB? You just might have some interest in that. Water issues require proper representation, something we do not presently have.

  18. John Thompson says:

    Yes Dennis, I am scratching my head and laughing out loud over the plan to get a report from a diver so see if they can spare a possible 0.5 millimeters per week for the farmers of the area!

    I think it best to give credit to the votes for reconsideration but readily admit that it was a no brainer!

  19. Dennis Fox says:

    John – at no time did I refer to only the vote on restrictions as the basis for my comment – I did say that those councillors mention are often the same people who are all over the map on a variety of issues and, to be frank, are so inconsistent that thanking them has to be left to you. I do believe you when you say that the original decision was mishandled, and based on poor information – so thanking anyone after the fact just doesn’t cut it, at least not for me. I too contacted my councillors and the mayor after the original by-law was announced, questioning their jurisdiction in several areas and you should read some of the ill considered email comments I received. Like I say, you can thank them after this fiasco, but not me.

    Also, even you have to be scratching your head over this idea of sending a diver down to make a judgement call on the suitability of drawing water from Roblin Lake. Talk abut a contrived way out of their own mess! I related this story to a person, recently retired from the MNR – he just shook his head in an uncontrollable laugh – calling the diver nothing more than a scam. No one deserves to be thank in this mess, other than the farmers who have had to put up with it.

  20. John Thompson says:

    Dennis, the 10 who supported reconsideration were largely not the ones who supported the restrictions and 2 of them were absent for the original vote. Other Councillors have come to realize that the decision for restrictions was based on erroneous and incomplete information. These Councillors deserve credit for voting to hear the farmers for the first time. The Federation of Agriculture was also present with new information.

    The Roblin Lake water is safe, adequate and obtainable with the resources of the local farmers. The County’s suggested alternatives do not meet all of these criteria.

  21. Chuck says:

    Why would they draw their own municipal water when they could draw bulk water they are subsidizing.

  22. Roger says:

    It should not be forgotten that many residents have municipal water to their homes. As long as these people do not wash cars or water lawns etc. They can draw as much water as they wish for their livestock. Where does that water come from and is it depleting the ground level water? I think council have had a knee jerk reaction without any hope of enforcing the water ban and they have no clear provision for anyone without municipal water. Maybe those using well water are not trustworthy because we need to haul water for livestock.

  23. Dennis Fox says:

    The “motion to reconsider” should not have been denied, particularly when we “seem” to be discovering that Council might be on shaky ground for restricting water from Roblin Lake. What harm could there be to at least listen? Unfortunately, the councillors you mention have been known to be all over the map on a variety of issues – so personally despite their support on this issue, I wouldn’t be praising them – the same people supported the restrictions in the first place! Now, they no doubt support wasting more money on a diver to justify – hmm, err, what exactly?

  24. John Thompson says:

    The motion to reconsider had a recorded vote so the names will be on the public record (in the minutes). The 10 in support of reconsideration in the order that the vote was called were Councillors Maynard, Nieman, O’Brien, Pennell, Roberts, Epstein, Forrester, Graham, Harrison and Hull. This was 1 short of the 2/3 required for a reconsideration motion and we thank them for their support.

  25. Chuck says:

    My error, yes just past Bethesda Road. Check the beautiful green lawns. You said a lake and I said a bay. The water table belongs to everyone. You could be wasting your neighbours well source unknowlingly.

  26. Dennis Fox says:

    Chuck – thanks for clarifying. I don’t think Bethel Rd. runs near 49 – could you be meaning Bethesda Rd.? Either way, I’m not familiar with with the lawns and sprinklers you are referring to. Even so, they are allowed to use their sprinkler every two days. but that in itself brings up an interesting question – does the municipality have jurisdiction over private wells? Council seems to think they do, but I highly doubt it.
    But Chuck come on now, surely you know that the Bay is part of Lake Ontario. The point being made was – if people can take water from Roblin Lake without impacting it, why not Lake Ontario?

  27. Emily says:

    Because you live on 49, have a shore well and can afford to pump water doesn’t make you less responsible. The Bay water is everyone’s water and everyone needs to conserve.

  28. Chuck says:

    Dennis, you said why not Lake Ontario? I said it is not relevant in terms of an intake. And I think you live in Sophiasburgh. Have you not seen the sprinklers and luscious green lawns just past Bethel Road on 49? And Picton gets water from the bay not the lake.

  29. Snowman says:

    Wow. County Farmers have really fallen off this council’s radar screen. 6 members of this group couldn’t even support a motion to reconsider? Not a motion to rescind, mind you. Just to reconsider, to listen to new information. Information(provincial regs.) that County staff should have researched BEFORE they threw Ameliasburgh farmers under the bus. I would like to know who the 6 that voted against are. I hope the next time they are in one of our fancy eateries enjoying “County Grown” beef they think about it.

  30. Dennis Fox says:

    Chuck – sorry I am not following what point you are making. Picton has a water intake pipe out in the Lake, plus according to council urban resident don’t use enough water at any time – so why restrict people who don’t appear to waste water? Then again, I am on a well and I can tell you, that neither I nor anyone I know who is also on a well waste their water. The thought of watering my lawn, in any year, just doesn’t happen. Personally, I believe that council needed to only assist those whose wells have gone dry – they made the Water Restriction By-law unnecessarily complicated and possibly confrontational – and now even more expensive paying for a diver.

  31. Chuck says:

    No intake to assess from Lake Ontario Dennis. Probably should be though.

  32. Dennis Fox says:

    So if Council had a choice as to whether or not to restrict taking water from Roblin Lake, then on what basis did they restrict it? From what John Thompson wrote, it appears that there was no basis for council’s decision – which now throws even more doubt onto their most recent decision to hire a diver. As far as the point about using water from Roblin Lake for watering lawns goes, couldn’t a similar point be made for those urban residents who use water from Lake Ontario? Is Council going to send divers down there too?(;o) While I personally don’t mind being part of the solution to save water, I would like to feel that my council is basing their decisions on science and not on politics and over-reaction.

  33. Chuck says:

    Fair enough John, thanks. The spring fed got me as I interpreted being mentioned as though it was significant.

  34. John Thompson says:

    No implication was intended that spring fed is an automatic supply which it is not. The point is that 0.5 mm per week is not significant (2 mm in a month, 50 weeks to calculate 1 inch but we do get rain and snow) but the County should prohibit lawn watering if they are concerned. Prohibiting water taking for livestock is not allowed in Ontario. Farmers must meet the legal requirements for animal care and food safety.

  35. Chuck says:

    Taking that amount of water has to have an impact in a Level 3 situation. You make it sound like spring fed water body’s are not dependent upon a natural supply. I guess springs just create that water from some alternate super natural source.

  36. John Thompson says:

    Quinte Conservation provided the data which led the Low Water Response Team declaring level 3 and recommending that Municipalities to take measures to reduce the non essential uses of water. Livestock watering is an essential animal care requirement and QC did not recommend any restrictions for the farmers. We have calculated the farmers usage as being equal to 0.53 millimeters per week off of this spring fed lake which has depths of over 50 feet. This volume is insignificant to any outcomes.

    Under the Ontario Water Resources Act, the taking of less than 379,000 litres of water per day for livestock can not be prohibited.

    If the County has serious concerns about the level of the lake, do you think they would be allowing lawn watering for up to 8 hours every other day?

  37. Chuck says:

    I don’t believe CA recommended the Roblin Lake restriction. However the supply of water to residents surely trumps supply to animals. They need to be assured the intake is not at a level that threatens human water supply. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions to protect the residents. That is Council’s responsibility.

  38. Dennis Fox says:

    This sounds very odd to me, actually it verges on the ridiculous. Wasn’t it on the advice of the Conservation Authority that a Level 3 Drought Warning was issued and that it was the C.A. that recommended that Roblin Lake be protected from further stress placed on it from bulk water removal by farmers? Wasn’t it our Council that called the “emergency” meeting to announce their strict water restrictions FOR EVERYONE because of this warning? Now they are having the taxpayers pay for a diver to go into Roblin Lake – and to do what? Seriously unless this diver has geological and meteorological expertise, with a team of scientist – just what can be achieved by sending a diver? Nothing! – except one of two things – first to prove the farmers wrong (highly unlikely), or it is the political weaseling out of their decision, because Council overstepped their jurisdiction with their restrictions. Is this another example of tax dollars being wasted? Today on a diver – what’s next? Tomorrow on a rocket ship to see where the rain clouds are? Honestly, this has to be a joke – right?

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