Quebec Standard

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Water sources dry up, and cities in southern Quebec sound the warning

Quebec

Key takeaways: 

  • Farmers worry about livestock; municipalities limit water use and aim for help from the region.
  • Dairy farmer Rachel Mahannah stated people could no longer stay smug regarding water shortages and must prepare for more prolonged, more intense droughts. 

During an unrelenting period of dry, hot climate last August, Rachel Mahannah and her spouse spent two hours a day moving water from their other ranch a kilometer and a half away to ensure their dairy cows didn’t get dehydrated.

The well on the dairy ranch, 70 meters deep, had nearly run dry.

“That was the first red flag that came up for us,” stated Mahannah, who co-owns Mahvhays dairy farm in Brigham, Que., approximately 75 kilometers southeast of Montreal. 

The ranch is a modest operation with 65 head of cattle, including 35 dairy cows. Mahannah estimates they require about 4,000 liters of water per day — almost the well could provide. Mahannah stated the farm was in survival mode for nearly two weeks.

Their home depends on the same well, so Mahannah’s family had to give water, which meant taking their three kids elsewhere to shower. 

Also read: The rising price of food adds up in your grocery cart

During an unrelenting period of dry, hot climate last August, Rachel Mahannah and her spouse spent two hours a day moving water from their other ranch a kilometer and a half away to ensure their dairy cows didn’t get dehydrated

They intend to dig another well soon, but in the future, Mahannah said, growers like her need a backup plan as droughts become more regular.

“I think the water supply is a problem that we’ve taken for granted,” she said.

‘Tip of the iceberg’

Gifted with thousands of lakes, rivers, and streams, Quebec houses three percent of the world’s fresh water. 

But in southern Quebec, a growing population, high water consumption, and increasingly dry summers are putting pressure on the water supply.

Alain Bourque, executive director of Ouranos, a Quebec research consortium on weather change, blames the advanced evaporation that comes with warmer spring temperatures. 

Source – cbc.ca

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