Summer heat leading to increased water consumption in N.B.
MONCTON, N.B. -- Rising temperatures mixed with a lack of precipitation are a cause for concern for many across the Atlantic region.
Farmers say their crops are taking a toll, and the Department of Natural Resources is on high alert for more forest fires.
Farmer Tom Trueman is hoping for rain in the near future, as the berry crops at his Aulac, N.B., farm desperately need water.
“We’re of course pumping a lot of water to irrigate the crops that we have irrigated,” says Trueman. “But it’s to replace Mother Nature from a rainfall perspective.”
It's a similar hope from the Department of Natural Resources, which has now placed a fire ban on the majority of New Brunswick.
“The factors that affect fires are the temperature, precipitation and wind,” says Leon LeBlanc, New Brunswick DNR's south district ranger. “When you have a hot, windy day with no precipitation, well, the fire hazard goes up, and summer 2020 has been like that a lot.”
According to the Canadian Drought Monitor, 24 per cent of the Atlantic Region was classified as either "abnormally dry" or "moderate to severe drought" in the month of June.
The town of Riverview, N.B., is also reporting the heat as a factor into the town’s increased water consumption.
“Most definitely, the high, dry weather has influenced people,” says Colin Smith, manager at the Town of Riverview. “People want their lawns green, so you can see there’s an extra effort placed on those things.”
A bylaw has been put in place to conserve the usage of water in Riverview.
“If you live in an odd number house, those are the days in the week you should be watering your garden and your lawn,” explains Smith. “You really should only use your water for an hour at one time, two hours total. You should be doing it before 8 a.m., and after 6 p.m., so not really through the day.”
The rules and guidelines put in place by the town will remain in effect until at least the end of September, when town council will review them depending on how much water is consumed.
With the lack of precipitation, DNR is anticipating even more forest fires if the heat warnings continue.
“Our numbers are way up there,” says LeBlanc. “We have a 10-year average, and we’re way above that right now with fires and areas that burn.”
Back at the farm, Trueman says the rising heat is beginning to cost him.
“We won’t know until we start the harvest next week, but it looks like we’re probably going to suffer 30-40 per cent reduction in yield due to rain,” he says.