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Spring showers avert tighter water restrictions

Persistent spring and early summer showers mean less rigid Stage 1 restrictions are adequate for now.

That’s from the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD), who say the deluges and cooler weather have kept the water levels in Comox Lake higher than average.

Water/Wastewater Services senior manager Kris La Rose says it has been an unusual year, especially after last year’s heat dome and subsequent drought conditions.

The water means that they are not forecasting more measures unless upcoming hot weather persists.

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“This has been a great year for water, so our water levels, as a result, are very high up at the lake which puts us in a really good place,” said La Rose. “So, the Comox Valley water restrictions are tied to the amount of water in the lake and BC Hydro’s confidence about their ability to deliver water down the river.”

La Rose says BC Hydro makes decisions based on how much water they can release. Hydro is always revising its model to ensure fish flows in the river, and restrictions are connected to this flow rate.

“If that flow drops below drops below the typical minimum fish flow of 15.4m3/s down the river then that triggers our shift to Stage 2,” said La Rose. “If it’s getting hotter and drier and they need to reduce further and it needs to go below 11 cubic metres per second then that triggers our shift to Stage 3.”

La Rose adds that is not atypical, however, and asks residents to monitor their water usage and make changes to use less water this time of year.

“Make use of [your] controllers and do some experiments just to see how much water it actually takes to keep those lawns and gardens looking good,” he said. “I think in many cases residents might find that there is an opportunity to reduce flow without compromising the health of their plants.”

He adds the CVRD recommends smart water controllers and have a rebate for those devices. Information about those options can be found on the CVRD website.

Manager of Operations for the Village of Cumberland Rob Crisfield says they watch the Cumberland creek supply for water restrictions. He says this is because the supply in Allen Lake is much larger.

“On the Cumberland Creek supply we have four lakes (reservoirs) and when we see levels in the upper reservoir (Stevens Lake) reach the 1/3 of full pool level, we slow down the draw from this side and draw more from Allen Lake,” he said. “Currently we are in great shape and still just under full pool.”

Crisfield says there are not any worries about the water supply at this point, even with an extended dry period.

Cumberland goes into Stage 1 water restrictions on May 1 every year, and finishes at the end of September.

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