Morden’s water supply running low amid extreme drought

MORDEN — The taps in the City of Morden could run dry if the area doesn’t get some rain or snow in the coming months, according to the community’s mayor.

Brandon Burley said the lake the community gets drinking water from is dropping so fast, it’s putting the water supply in jeopardy.

It comes amid a devastating drought that’s taken hold across southern Manitoba.

The city tightened rules around water usage back in May—people can’t water their lawns, fill their pools, wash their cars at home and Morden’s spray pad is closed—but the level on the lake is still in a sharp decline.

“Yeah, there’s a lot more beach than normal,” said Brooke Collins, a swimmer enjoying the lake on a hot day with her parents and friends.

The beach at Lake Minnewasta just outside Morden serves as a refuge for people looking to beat the heat.

But people have noticed that this summer, the popular recreation destination looks a lot different.

“Because we didn’t have lots of rain,” said Aubree Sloan, who was also enjoying the lake with family.

The level of the lake is around nine feet below normal, according to Burley.

You can still paddle and swim in the water but motorboats have been banned.

Hot and dry conditions which experts have warned will become more common due to climate change have led to extreme drought in the region and across the province.

The implications are hitting home for people who live here.

“You know I think it is definitely,” said Tyler Sloan, a Morden resident and Aubree’s dad. “Seeing the lake this low and knowing this is where we get our drinking water from.”

Lake Minnewasta supplies the community of 8,700 with drinking water.

The water level has been dropping at a rate of six inches every two weeks, according to Burley.

The mayor told CTV News if water levels continue to decline at the same rate and the area gets no new precipitation the community will not be able to draw drinking water from the lake in 34 weeks.

That’s a worst-case scenario but Burley said he wants community members to understand how serious the situation is.

Ron Schuler, Manitoba’s Infrastructure Minister, said Thursday most water supply reservoirs have sufficient supply with the exception of Lake Minnewasta which is at 68 per cent of full capacity.

“The City of Morden Council declared severe drought conditions on April the eighth and implemented water restrictions on May fourth,” Schuler said.

That means people can’t water their lawns or flowers or fill their pools with city water. The city’s splash pad is shut down and residents can only wash their vehicles at commercially-run car washes.

People at the lake, including cattle producer and grain farmer Danna Collins, have never seen anything like it.

“We would normally be sitting in water right now,” said Collins. “But that’s in every water body right now. If we were to go look in our pastures, our dugouts are all the same — they are nowhere near where they should be.

The R.M. of Macdonald, located just southwest of Winnipeg, has also implemented water restrictions due to a continual drop in levels on the La Salle river from which it gets drinking water.

Back in Morden Tyler Sloan said his lawn looks like the sand on the beach but he said his family is doing their part to help conserve water.

“Reducing the shower time, some of those things,” said Sloan. “Just not going for as long of a shower and less baths and just trying to use the lake here to cool down on these hot days.”

So far no new restrictions have been implemented in Morden but the mayor is asking people to conserve as much as they can.

Burley said the community is working on a contingency plan. He said talks are underway to get additional water from the Pembina Valley Water Cooperative. He said Morden Council has already approved a bigger supply line to pipe in the water. 

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