Quebec City rationing potable water use amid August's low precipitation

·2 min read
Water levels at the Saint-Charles River are exceptionally low. (Carl Boivin/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Water levels at the Saint-Charles River are exceptionally low. (Carl Boivin/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume is asking residents to avoid using the municipality's potable water on lawns, driveways, or to fill private pools, for at least the next two weeks.

At a press conference Tuesday, he said while the territory typically sees about 100 millimetres of rain in August, only 10 millimetres have fallen so far this month.

Labeaume said there is less than a month's worth of reserves left, which he called "concerning," and it's expected the current heat warning will stay in place for another few days, exacerbating the situation.

"We all know the kind of summer we're going through, I mean it's hot, it's dry and humid at the same time," Labeaume said, adding that while the air may feel humid, the lack of precipitation has still led to a dry month.

Other prohibited activities include washing cars and the exterior of houses.

"Take care of the resource," Labeaume said.

Fines range from $150 to $1,000, the mayor also said.

"When I see someone washing their driveway with potable water from the City of Quebec, I'm tired of it," Labeaume said. "It's as though they think it's inexhaustible."

There are some exceptions, namely that the city will continue washing some streets and will water some public sports fields.

And residents with newly installed lawns or pools are able to use some water, with limitations.

Labeaume said in 2013 the city asked residents to cut down on water use and they reduced consumption by about 25 per cent, so he's hoping they can do so again and extend the reserve.

"If everybody does the same thing we did last time, we might be okay," Labeaume said.

He's calling on everyone for a "collective effort," and recommended residents gently remind their neighbours of the restrictions if they see them using water unnecessarily.

He said considering the heat, residents can use potable water to help cool themselves down, but he's asking everyone to be "reasonable" about the amount they use, and for how long.

Labeaume said the water use restrictions will stay in place as long as there's still high temperatures and low precipitation.

He said he expects other cities in the province may also have to limit potable water use.

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