As the Sunshine Coast experienced the second heat wave of the summer, along with incoming tourists for the B.C. Day long weekend, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) asked residents to remember to conserve water.
Although Stage 3 of water restrictions came into effect for residents on the Chapman water system a week before, on July 23, water use had only declined slightly by July 30.
Over the long weekend, however, the SCRD still did not see a decrease in use: Saturday saw 17,208,000 litres (or 17,208 cubic metres) of water used. While use dipped slightly on Sunday to 16,977,000 litres, it spiked on Monday to 18,434,000 litres of water, Shane Walkey, manager of utility services, told Coast Reporter on Aug. 3.
Usually, he said, water use drops after a new restriction stage is announced. “It’s interesting that flows haven’t really reduced since Stage 2,” Walkey said. “I think this long, hot dry spell is affecting people, but it’s also affecting our water system.”
To supplement the Chapman supply, the SCRD made about 2.5 million litres of water from Gray Creek available daily for residents of Sechelt, Tuwanek and Sandy Hook.
“During the last heat wave, the Chapman Creek Water Treatment Plant was at capacity as we saw a significant spike in water use,” Remko Rosenboom, the SCRD’s general manager of infrastructure services, said in a July 30 press release. “This spike strained our system to its maximum capability, so please conserve water and follow the Stage 3 water conservation regulations.”
A graph of the daily water consumption for the Chapman system during July showed that while use was lower than 20,000 cubic metres of water (which had been exceeded several days earlier in the month), use was still above 15,000 cubic metres per day.
Photos taken at Chapman Lake show the water line receding, even though two comparison shots were taken only 10 days apart.
At the time of the July 30 press release from the SCRD, there had been no rain for 43 days. By Aug. 3, only .5 and 1.3 millimetres of rain was recorded at Chapman Lake since the dry spell began.
When asked if the SCRD could go to Stage 4, Walkey said the SCRD team meets regularly to discuss the water restriction stages based on current water use, supply, weather and other factors, as they try to extend the supply to early October.
“I’ve certainly learned to not try and project too far in advance, because a rainstorm could come and change everything. But if this hot weather continues, we may have to.”
He added that it would take several days of rain to help the water supply. Historically, water use in the summer can be double the amount of water used in the winter, usually because of outdoor use. Although water restrictions set by the SCRD focus on outdoor use, it’s up to residents to reduce water use indoors.
So far this year, the SCRD issued four tickets and 44 warnings for contravening water restrictions.
“I think people need to be vigilant and continue to try to use as little water as possible to extend our supply as long as we can,” Walkey said.
Water updates and current restrictions can be found online at www.scrd.ca/sprinkling-regulations.