Low water levels cause issues for boating, fishing and farming
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- As temperatures have soared this summer, water levels on rivers and lakes are reaching lows that have not been seen in years.
In some cases, warnings have been issued about a growing danger to boaters and other enthusiasts.
On a warm summer day, New Brunswick’s Hammond River is a favourite among kayakers.
Though this year, there isn’t as much river as usual. In some places, the water measures just a few inches deep, limiting an excursion.
“Lot of low points in the river when we were out kayaking. We went down the river further, and we had to turn around and come back, because it was all ground,” explains Pam Nesbitt, who attempted to go for a kayak in the Hammond on Friday.
The same is true of other rivers in the province, creating possible safety issues.
“There would be a safety issue for people driving motorized boats, because if you’re clipping along and you’re going through a passage that you think you know, then it can create some dangerous situations for people,” says kayaker Jodie Fischer.
That’s what NB Power had in mind when it tweeted a warning about water at the Beechwood Dam approaching its lower limits.
The utility says boaters need to watch for rocks and other obstructions.
Low water is having an effect on other pastimes along the river too, including fishing.
“When you have lower water, you’re going to have less pooling, less habitat for the fish,” explains Josh Kelly of the Hammond River Angling Association. “That causes stress, the fish might bite less, they might even end up dying from heat stress, so that’s a major factor in your angling.”
Away from the river, the lack of moisture in the ground is being felt on the farm, where hay fields and crops need days of steady rain.
“Everybody is saying the same thing, the apples need rain, the blueberries need rain, the cranberries need rain,” says Paul Gaunce, a dairy farmer in Passekeag, N.B.
Gaunce says on a lot of farms, the hay crop is coming up short, and so feed will be in short supply this fall and winter.
“Everybody is going to be scrambling to find forage all across the Maritimes, and I would say all the way to Ontario be cause it’s been dry there too,” says Gaunce.
Gaunce says the price of hay as already increased about 50 per cent and may go higher.