Following weeks of hot and dry weather and ongoing high water use, Stage 4 water restrictions are in effect for the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) until further notice.
The severe water conservation regulations, banning all outdoor use of drinking water, came into effect at noon on Tuesday, Aug. 10.
The restrictions apply to those on the Chapman water system, which includes the District of Sechelt, Roberts Creek, Halfmoon Bay and parts of Elphinstone.
A $500 fine applies to anyone found not complying.
As of Aug. 9, the SCRD had issued 57 warnings and four fines since Stage 1 began in May.
“Under these drought conditions, water use priorities focus on water for human health, firefighting and environmental flow requirements,” an Aug. 10 SCRD press release said.
Matt Treit, the SCRD’s manager of protective services, stressed the importance of conserving water for fire suppression on the Coast.
“[On] behalf of all our fire chiefs, I ask that Sunshine Coast residents please obey water regulations and help protect our valuable water supply,” Treit said in the release.
Tap water cannot be used for any outdoor use, including for garden hoses, watering cans, sprinklers and irrigation systems. Any kind of pool, hot tub, garden pond or fountain will have to go without. Driveways, sidewalks, vehicles and boats cannot be washed.
The restrictions will also affect multiple SCRD facilities. Sports fields will no longer be irrigated, and the water park at Shirley Macey Park is closed. The hot tub at the Sechelt Aquatic Centre is also closed. The SCRD’s vehicles, including the BC Transit buses, will not be washed. The annual water main flushing program has been postponed.
The SCRD will soon be diverting water from Edwards Lake, and “is working to deploy an emergency backup system to access additional water at Chapman Lake.”
The notice comes the same day Environment Canada issued a heat warning for the Sunshine Coast. Between Thursday, Aug. 12, and Sunday, Aug.15, daytime highs are expected to range between 29 and 35 C, with humidex values into the mid-to-high 30s. Overnight lows of 16 to 19 C are predicted.
“The duration of this heat wave is expected to last at least three days, and little relief is expected at night with elevated overnight temperatures. These hotter than normal temperatures will increase the potential for heat-related illnesses,” Environment Canada’s heat warning states of the summer’s third heat wave.
Stage 4 has not been called for the Chapman water system since 2018, when it lasted for 14 days. In 2017, Stage 4 lasted 25 days. In 2015, it was in effect for 22 days. This is the earliest this level of restrictions has been declared in at least six years.
Only six millimetres of rain was recorded at Chapman Lake over the weekend, as hot and dry weather continues in the region.
“Due to dry weather and the ongoing high community demand, the water level at Chapman Lake has dropped quickly over the last several weeks,” Remko Rosenboom, general manager of infrastructure services, said in the SCRD’s release.
“The water supply to the customers on the Chapman water system is not guaranteed if the current dry weather continues into the fall. Now more than ever, we really need the community to stop using drinking water for outdoor use and to conserve as much as possible inside the home.”
The latest stage of restrictions for Chapman comes less than three weeks after Stage 3 began on July 23. Stage 2 came into effect on July 5.
People using SCRD water in Pender Harbour, Earls Cove and Egmont remain at Stage 1, while those on the groundwater systems in Langdale, Soames Point and Granthams Landing are at Stage 2. Eastbourne water system will remain at Stage 4.
The Town of Gibsons’ three water zones are all currently at Stage 2 – moderate.
Find more information at www.scrd.ca/Sprinkling-Regulations for details on water conservation regulations.