Due to low inflows into the Comox Lake reservoir and in anticipation of low water conditions for the near future, the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) is moving to stage two water restrictions on July 25.
“Given the persistent warm and dry weather, and the low snow packs this year that have been depleted, the CVRD recognizes the importance of working with BC Hydro and the Department of Fisheries to support water conservation during these low flow periods,” said Marc Rutten, CVRD’s general manager of engineering services. “Stage two restrictions will go into effect July 25, and remain there until further notice.”
Between October 2013 and July 2014, the Comox Lake watershed received the lowest amount of precipitation on record.
The snow pack was completely melted by mid-June, which is about six weeks earlier than normal.
Inflows to Comox Lake are currently at record lows for this time of year.
Vancouver Island watersheds are listed at Drought Level 3 (very dry), and Environment Canada is predicting hotter and drier than normal temperatures through the summer.
BC Hydro, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the CVRD, as the main licensed users of the Comox Lake reservoir, work together to ensure that the licensed uses can be met.
Currently, BC Hydro is running its 24-megawatt power generation facility at five megawatts, or 20 per cent of normal, which is the lowest possible level at which they can operate.
DFO typically requires a minimum fish flow level of about 16 cubic metres per second (cms), but has agreed to a variance that has dropped flows to about 13 cms this summer.
This compromise results in less available fish habitat, and the slower and shallower flows may result in higher water temperatures, which is less than ideal for the fish.
While it is anticipated that these reductions in water use will help to keep enough water in the reservoir for the summer and early fall, there is a possibility for critical water shortages in the fall if there is no significant precipitation through September.
As one of the licensed water users, the CVRD has a responsibility to take steps toward water conservation due to the existing drought conditions.
During stage two water restrictions, residents may only use a sprinkler to water a lawn growing on a property with:
• an even-numbered address, on Tuesday and Saturday between the hours of 4:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. They may not use a sprinkler to water the lawn on any other day or time; and
• an odd numbered address, on Wednesday and Sunday between the hours of 4:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.. They may not use a sprinkler to water the lawn on any other day or time.
Other restrictions are outlined in the bylaw and can be located on the CVRD website at www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/restrictions.
Stage two water restrictions apply to areas serviced by the Comox Valley local water system which includes the City of Courtenay, the Town of Comox, the Arden, Comox Valley, England Road, Marsden/Camco and Greaves Crescent water local service areas.
The CVRD will be continuing to assess the situation with BC Hydro and will notify residents on the water restriction stage by updating the CVRD website www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/restrictions, its social media pages including Facebook and Twitter and the water restriction signs located in high traffic areas of the Comox Valley.
-Contributed by CVRD