The Stories...so far
LOW WATER LEVELS, HIGH USAGE TRIGGER STAGE 3 RESTRICTIONS, BC
Water levels in Vancouver Island's Cowichan Lake and River are down to unprecedented lows; creeks that feed the lake are drying up, and with the influx of summer visitors and increased watering activity in the area, water usage has tripled in recent weeks.
The situation has prompted the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) to issue stage 3 water restrictions for its Honeymoon Bay and Woodley Range water systems, in addition to the Stage 2 water restrictions put into effect on July 7. (see below)
Under Stage 3 restrictions, all sprinkling of lawns and boulevards is suspended and only watering by hand is allowed for 1 hour per designated day.
"The water source for Honeymoon Bay was switched from a surface draw to a drilled well a couple of years ago," says Louise Knodel-Joy, CVRD Senior Engineering Technologist," the dry spell is not only affecting lakes and rivers it's affecting the whole aquifer".
"Although a stage 3 advisory was issued last summer, the low water levels we are seeing now are unusual. They normally happen in August, and with the influx of summer vacationers, the Honeymoon reservoir is being depleted. We are hoping that the water meters we will be installing this year will help curb water usage".
As for the Woodley Range system, it was not included in last week's stage 2 restrictions as it was only taken over by the CVRD last Tuesday. It is a small privately-owned drilled well system located on the top of a small mountain that serves 33 lots, 20 of which have homes on them.
"Woodley Range residents are happy we've taken the system over because it currently provides very little water," says Knodel-Joy.
"You don't need to get a license to drill wells in BC, and the previous owner had drilled 15 wells in his search for water. Only three of them work," she says." We are doing a feasibility study and will be instituting rainwater recycling next summer."
STAGE 2 WATER RESTRICTIONS ISSUED IN SOUTHERN VANCOUVER ISLAND, BC
On July 7, all residents of the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD), including Duncan and Lady Smith, were asked to comply with stage 2 water restrictions, due to concerns over low snow pack, low rainfall and a projected dry summer.
According to a June 15 bulletin put out by British Columbia's Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, "stream flows have dropped to below or well-below normal levels (20-80%) on Vancouver Island, and watersheds are particularly vulnerable to low flows from hot and dry summer weather, because of the low snow packs this year."
In fact, if we understand it correctly, data from the related Snow Survey put out by the Ministry indicates that the snow water equivalent for Wolf River and Jump Creek are at 0% and 1% of their normal.
"That is how I would read that as well although I am not an expert on this. I do know they are already transporting fish to help them get to the spawning grounds." says Sybille Sanderson, CVRD, Public Safety Division in an email to the Water Chronicles.
Although water restrictions are nothing new to British Columbians, stage 2 restrictions are. Watering is only allowed two days a week between certain hours, depending on your address, under stage 2 restrictions.
"It is unusual", says Louise Knodel-Joy, Senior Engineering Technologist, CVRD. "All the local communities decided to team up and issue these precautionary measures because the water levels are particularly low this year"
Over at the city of Duncan, Director of Public Works Abbas Farahbakhsh says "I have been here for six years and we've never gone to stage 2. I've been told that the water levels in Cowichan Lake are at their lowest in years".
The restrictions affect about 14,000 people. The water systems under water restrictions include Arbutus Mountain Estates, Arbutus Ridge, Bald Mountain, Burnum, Carlton, Cherry Point Estates, Dogwood Ridge, Fern Ridge, Honeymoon Bay, Kerry Village, Lambourg Estates, Mesachie Lake, Saltair, Satellite Park, Shawnigan Lake North, Shellwood, Youbou