Maritime water quality during hot and dry summer
HALIFAX -- Around early August is when most of the Maritimes begins to experience the effects of dry, hot weather on water levels. However, amid summer 2020's unusually hot temperatures, it's worth it to examine the state of the region's water quality.
At Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the waterfalls continue to pack a mid-summer punch. However, a closer look at the waterfalls, such as Mary Ann Falls, reveals many dry areas amid an already dry year.
University of New Brunswick biology professor, Dr. Janice Lawrence, says unusually hot weather has been the cause for many effects that residents trying to enjoy bodies of water would consider adverse.
"We had an incredibly hot June – off the record charts," says Lawrence. "That heat really is great for cyanobacteria growth."
Cyanobacteria is also known as blue-green algae. Generally, reports of blue-green algae rise in early August until fall.
Lawrence says people should be mindful of where they swim – especially if the area has been under a blue-green algae advisory before.
"Take a look in the water, see if there's anything there. Assess the people who might be going into the water," says Lawrence. "Are they strong swimmers? Are they people who may be immunocompromised or other considerations? Is there a dog or small person who is more likely to put things in their mouth present? And make a decision that way."
While water levels are low in early August – the situation was worse in June.
"It's good, at least every three or four days, to have a little shower," says Withrow's Farm Market manager, Michael Withrow. "You can't beat natural rain."
Withrow notes dry weather is having detrimental effects on many lawns in the region.
"You don't want people to freak out too much that their lawns are dying," says Withrow. "Quite often, grass will go dormant right now when it is hot."
Halifax Water says levels are in good shape – for the meantime.
"The summers are getting much drier, getting much hotter," says Halifax Water communications and public relations manager, James Campbell. "Issues for us, if they do crop up, tend to be later in the summer or early in the fall."
In August 2019, residents using the Lake Major water supply were told to conserve water due to dry weather. However, in 2020, Halifax Water has made improvements to avoid water scarcity.
'Now, we have a new dam that's in operation that gives us much better control over lake levels," says Campbell. "Much better ability – it can hold back water, to let water flow through…"
Meanwhile, officials are asking residents to be more conscious when it comes to water consumption and consider whether or not their usage is necessary.