Levels on the Mississippi River are currently 65% below normal for this time of year. The Draft Mississippi Watershed Plan recently released for comment by Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) states that the watershed has experienced four droughts since 2012 and six large floods since 1998. Climate change models for the watershed predict more frequent extreme weather events and earlier spring freshets, with potential impacts on winter ice stability and the ability of the Authority to achieve target summer water levels and flows on the river.
“We can’t rest on our laurels and sit idle as we experience the impacts of climate change,” says Watershed Public Advisory Committee Chair John Karau. “Make no mistake, we’re already seeing algae blooms, invasive species, and other threats to water quality on the lake, and we need to take action to mitigate these impacts now.”
Climate change appears throughout the Draft Watershed Plan with many of the strategic actions aimed at building resiliency to extremes in weather through improvements to water management and storage, subdivision design, and the protection of natural features such as shoreline buffers, forests and wetlands.
“Water is a shared resource and, particularly when in short supply, we need to collaborate to manage it effectively” says MVCA General Manager Sally McIntyre. “We’re engaging councils, municipal staff and others in discussions about the actions to be taken to ensure we are resilient to the impacts of climate change over the long-term. But, it’s up to everyone in the watershed to take responsibility for how they manage and use water.”
The Plan encourages watershed residents to act as stewards and identifies vegetated shoreline buffers and septic systems inspections as two simple ways people can contribute to mitigating the impacts of climate change on water quality and quantity in the Mississippi River.
The draft Mississippi River Watershed Plan is available for download at www.mvc.on.ca/watershedplan. Comments will be received until June 25, 2021.
Community Relations Coordinator