Oliver introduces stage one water restrictions as well levels reach historic low

Early water restrictions

The Town of Oliver has introduced stage one water restrictions earlier than normal, as well water reaches historically low levels.

During a council meeting Monday, Kelly Mercer, Town of Oliver director of operations, presented a report with provincial observation well and Town well data, suggesting that council may wish to declare stage one water restrictions.

"Well OW 405 and well OW 407 serve as early warning indicators for water scarcity,” reads a report by Mercer.

Groundwater levels at wells 405 and 407 are close to levels that typically trigger water restrictions, with well 405 being at a historically low level when comparing to the last 10 years.

The water level below ground surface at well 405 is 18.9 metres, whereas the water restriction trigger is at 18.7 metres. Additionally, the water level below ground surface at well 407 is roughly 11.7, whereas the trigger is around 11.5 metres.

“Town staff looked at our well comparison from our levels last year to the same time this year,” said Mercer.

“At Miller Road we're 2.6 feet of difference in the sense of the height of the water, so we have less water than last year […] Black Sage we’re at 3.2, and Rockcliffe domestic we’re [at] 4.6 feet.“

Several other regional communities, such as Osoyoos and Kamloops have already implemented water restrictions.

While council approved the water restrictions, the vote was not unanimous, with three councillors voting against them.

“I don't think we've ever had watering restrictions this early in the year,” said Coun. David Mattes.

“We might be jumping the gun a little bit I recognize that the snowpack has is certainly a factor, but we also don't know how wet our spring and early summer will be — how much rain is going to fall.“

Councillors discussed potentially waiting another month before imposing water restrictions.

“I don't think there's any harm in being a little cautious and a little proactive,” said Coun. Petra Veintimilla.

“I don't know if we've talked at this table before, but I know other communities have talked about year-round restrictions getting people into the habit of using water wisely. Three days a week, isn't overly restrictive."

Water levels in many Okanagan lakes and rivers are running low, due to low run offs and low snow pack.

According to the B.C. River Forecast Centre, the province was averaging 63 per cent of normal snowpack at the beginning of April, which is the lowest April average in over five decades. In Oliver and Osoyoos, the local snowpack was between 70 and 80 per cent of normal for the same time period.

Town of Oliver staff say they are currently working on a new drought management plan, which will come back to council in June.

Town of Oliver stage one water restrictions

Watering may take place for no more than two hours on each permitted irrigation day and only between the hours of 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. as follows:

  • Odd numbered addresses on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday
  • Even numbered addresses on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday

Micro Irrigation and Drip-Irrigation Systems may run for an additional day per week due to their increased efficiency. Additional watering days must be limited to only such systems:

  • Odd numbered addresses bonus day Thursday
  • Even numbered addresses bonus day Thursday

Food producing plants are excluded from these restrictions.

Hand watering is also permitted outside of the prescribed watering days.

“Properties with multiple units per civic address, such as mobile home parks, should base their irrigation on their unit number where possible,” reads a Town of Oliver news release.

“Properties using canal water from a separate irrigation service for farming practices are not affected at this time.”

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