Temporary water permits available for Ontario irrigators

Pond suffering the impact of July’s drought

The extremely dry growing season has been hitting Ontario farmers hard, particularly in the Niagara region. The effects of the intense heat combined with little to no rain has resulted in the Ontario Tender Fruit Growers and the Ontario Fresh Grape Growers’ Marketing Board asking the government to streamline Permit to Take Water (PTTW) procedures.


Map of drought in Southern Ontario for July 2016

With the combination of low moisture levels leading up to the growing season and minimal rainfall through the season, the industry is scrambling to maintain its crops within the current water allotment allowance. Harvesting local, nutritious fruits of marketable size is a commitment growers make to the public. Now, Ontario farmers are turning to irrigation to maintain crop quality.

 

Matthias Oppenlaender, chair of Grape Growers of Ontario, noted, "Vineyards can sustain a lot of dry, hot weather. However, to produce economically viable yields, water is essential. This continuous lack of moisture has put tremendous strain on new grape plantings and existing vineyards."

 

In early July, the Ontario Tender Fruit Growers and the Ontario Fresh Grape Growers’ Marketing Board collaboratively sent a letter to the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC). The communication urged the government to collaborate with municipalities and growers to develop short-term and longer-term water infrastructure solutions.

 

The MOECC, supported by OMAFRA, heard the pleas of Ontario farmers and agreed to a streamlined approval process for PTTW. The streamlining of the approvals process will be done during the current growing season and on a temporary and short-term basis. Requests by growers will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and may include takings from the Great Lakes and connecting channels, takings from dugout ponds and takings from neighbouring permitted sources such as ponds.

 

Patrick Spezowka, Supervisor, Program Support Services, MOECC in the South West Region, said, “the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change recognizes the unique and difficult situation faced by the Ontario Tender Fruit Growers and the Ontario Fresh Grape Growers. The streamlined urgent permitting process provides farmers with a solution to their immediate water taking needs. This process is available on a temporary and short-term basis during the current growing season to help maintain crop quality. We’ll continue to work collaboratively with the agriculture community to find solutions to current and future challenges.”

 

“Every water taking source is unique, and potential environmental impacts of the taking need to be evaluated,”says Sasha Novakovic, water specialist at the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association. “Growers are encouraged to contact their regional MOECC office or the OFVGA for additional information and support.”

 

Over the long-term, the government is committed to working with grower organizations in developing longer-term drought management solutions and infrastructure projects, particularly in the Niagara region, for tender fruit and fresh grape growers. Phil Tregunno, chair of the Ontario Tender Fruit Growers commented, “We look forward to working with the province and municipalities to implement water access strategies that will ensure a sustainable supply of local fruit for consumers.”

 

Rebecca Shortt, a water quantity engineer at OMAFRA, points to the importance of water conservation efforts as a whole, stating, “Efficient irrigation practices are always important but even more so during dry periods. Some practices which may help stretch irrigation to more crops include ensuring the irrigation system is applying the amount of water expected, using soil moisture instruments to ensure soil is at optimum moisture and avoiding irrigating non-target areas such as roadways and neighbouring fields.”

 

Despite water conservation efforts, the increasing demand for water has Grape Growers CEO, Debbie Zimmerman stating, "Weather patterns have changed significantly over the years and it will be our collective efforts to plan for these shifts in climate. Clearly we need the Ontario government and its relevant ministries to respond to the immediate needs of the growers with water taking strategies.”

Resources:

 

 

  • Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs – Irrigation  

 

 

 

 Bruce Kelly and Morgan Ellis, Farm & Food Care Ontario. 

 

If latest news: 
Check if it is latest news (for "Latest News" page)
Publish date: 
Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Click to leave a comment

CAPTCHA
For security purposes, please confirm you are not a robot!

RELATED NEWS

Spearheading change with asparagus allies

For the last two years, Rebecca Compton has chaired the Asparagus Farmers of Ontario through a challenging marketing period. While managing 60 acres and an on-farm retail outlet, Big Red Barn near Delhi, Ontario, she encourages her young children – Sable and Anson – to be at home in the field.

Breeding local apples for multiple micro-climates

Many apple growers are converting to high-density orchards with top-selling consumer favourites:  Honeycrisp, Ambrosia and Gala. The search for new varieties is arduous as Cathy McKay, vice-chair of the Ontario Apple Growers, attests. She’s been one of the champions of a new Canadian Apple Breeding Consortium.

Cannabis clouds competitiveness of greenhouse vegetable sector

Canada’s greenhouse vegetable sector is feeling the heat from energy prices to carbon taxes to cannabis conversions. But Duffy Kniaziew, owner, Orangeline Farms, is sticking with what he knows: peppers.

Seasonal workers a win-win, says apple producer

In the Canadian Horticultural Council’s latest video, British Columbia apple grower Nirwal Dhaliwal talks about the importance of international workers, both to running his operation, and personally, as friends and neighbours.

Local Line platform helps market gardener

Organic market gardener Joe Grootenboer moved to the Local Line software platform a year ago. With a customized box program, he has increased the average sale from $19 per week to $27 per week.