Outdoor water use changes coming on Wednesday
With ongoing hot, dry weather following a low snow pack winter, creeks and rivers are suffering from extreme drops in water levels.
“We are very nervous about the levels in our reservoir,” stated City of Cranbrook chief administrative officer Wayne Staudt to city council last night, while explaining that extra measures must be taken to conserve water.
Noting that “a very severe drought” is impacting British Columbia and adjoining jurisdictions, Cranbrook is taking the province’s lead and enacting stricter water conservation measures, Staudt said.
“If our reservoir drops a foot, (water) quality suffers. And we’re dropping an inch or two a day right now,” he said.
As a result, the number of days per week that residents are able to water their lawns and gardens in Cranbrook will be reduced from three days per week down to two starting on Wednesday, August 19.
Even numbered properties can water on Thursdays and Sundays while odd numbered properties can water on Tuesdays and Saturdays. No one waters on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays until further notice. On your permitted days watering can occur from 4 to 11 a.m. and from 7 to 11 p.m. This covers all outdoor water use including: washing of vehicles, RVs, campers, boats, windows and the filling of kids’ pools or hot tubs.
“This is a situation we have been monitoring closely for some time and we’ve done our best to make sure the public is aware that these new restrictions would be coming if needed,” says Chris Zettel, Corporate Communications Officer for the City of Cranbrook. “They are needed now.”
The water level in Phillips Reservoir, where the city draws its water, continues to drop and not enough rainfall has been received in the watershed this summer to replenish the water being taken out.
The move reducing the number of watering days is laid out in the city’s Outdoor Water Management Policy 60-20. Although the policy indicates that reservoir levels must reach 75% of capacity before Phase 2 restrictions take effect, a number of other significant external factors have prompted the additional restrictions to happen earlier.
“Two weeks ago, the province raised the drought level in the Kootenays, including the East Kootenay, to level three, which calls for voluntary water use reductions by up to 20%,” Zettel noted, adding “the province also expects significant water supply shortages for the area through the rest of 2015.
Current creek and river levels, including Joseph and Gold Creeks, are what we normally see at the end of September, not August. Fishing in some rivers and streams in the southeast have been closed to all anglers by order of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) effective just this past weekend due to the decreased water levels and rising water temperatures. Go HERE to see what bodies of water have been closed to angling.
“We will keep watching the water level in the Phillips Reservoir and continue to update the public regularly through the local media and on our website,” Zettel said. “We are hopeful that the situation stabilizes and we don’t get to the point where further watering restrictions are needed. Time will tell.”
For more information about the changes in watering days, water conservation and what you can do to conserve, visit our website at www.cranbrook.ca and click on ‘Water Conservation’ under the City of Cranbrook Links on the homepage.
As well, the City of Cranbrook through Engineering and Development Services will not be accepting applications for Outdoor Water Use Exemption Permits until further notice. The permit allows for home or property owners to water outside of normal watering days and times for newly grass seeded areas or new sod.
Any permits that have already been awarded will still be allowed to be used and will not be revoked.