Reduced snowfall last winter and rainfall in the spring has left the Rideau River in Old Ottawa East lower then normal for this time of year.
Normally, higher water prevails until mid-June when the river settles into summer water levels.
In low water conditions, it may be difficult to keep water at a desired level, said Patrick Larson of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. There simply may not be enough water to reach such a level, he added, so nature is left to take its course.
However, according to Larson, the water level is actually controlled by Public Works and Government Services Canada and beyond Ottawa by Parks Canada.
Larson also pointed out that low water levels create shallow water that heats up faster. The warmer the water, the less oxygen there is for fish and other wildlife. While lower runoff flow is good for keeping the nutrients that fertilize algae and excessive plant growth to a minimum, lower water levels do affect habitat.
Exposed river bottoms, and shallow areas simply makes for a less diversified habitat of aquatic life.
Getting in and out of boats on the shore also becomes tricky as the river-bottom mud is often deep.
Low water levels restrict how far people can travel in canoes and kayaks. Going past the Queensway bridge or the islands near Bank Street is very tricky without getting out of your boat.
Even the south end of Brantwood Park is slow because the shallow water prevents paddles from going deep. Waves bounce back off the bottoms of boats further slowing passage.
While lower flow means less erosion, all plants need water, particularly water plants such as the bull rushes that are traditionally found on our shore lines. It may be interesting to see the river in a different state, but the appearance of the river bottom is better kept a mystery.