Stage 4 outdoor water restrictions are in place until further notice.
The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) announced a ban Oct. 3 on all outdoor water use in the Chapman water supply area. The only exception for water use will be for commercial food growers with farm status and only if their properties are metered.
The siphon at Chapman Lake is now operational. Michael Day, SCRD’s general manager of infrastructure, said the rain that fell last weekend “raised the Chapman Lake water level by about three centimetres for a few hours.”
Stage 4 water restrictions mean no outdoor watering is allowed. Water cannot be used to fill hot tubs, pools or ponds or to wash vehicles, driveways or boats. Only grey water – clean wastewater from showers/dishwashing – can be used to water outside.
Water use priorities include: human health (access to sufficient, clean and safe drinking, bathing and cooking water), firefighting, and environmental flows. To maintain environmental flows, the flow rate in Chapman Creek cannot fall below the level that is required to support the creek environment. The SCRD’s water use permit “requires us to provide no less than 200 litres per second to the creek below our water monitoring station,” Day said.
Residents on SCRD water from Pender Harbour to Egmont remain at Stage 1 and in Gibsons, only zones 3 and 4 are subject to the Stage 4 water restrictions. The Gibsons Aquifer supplies zones 1 and 2. Groundwater sources in Langdale, Soames Point and Granthams Landing remain at Stage 2 restrictions.
The Stage 4 water restrictions were discussed at Gibsons council’s committee of the whole meeting on Oct. 3. Director of engineering Dave Newman told councillors that his department’s annual aquifer monitoring is underway, and it has not turned up any cause for concern.
“There’s nothing to indicate the [town] aquifer is being impacted [by the drought],” Newman said. “I’m comfortable with zones 1 and 2 remaining at Stage 2.”
He also said Town staff are not anticipating the level of pushback they had from some residents the last time Stage 4 restrictions were imposed, because it is late in the year and the need to water food crops is not critical as it was in 2015.
The SCRD is encouraging residents to report infractions of outdoor watering to the SCRD. Water patrols will be done and SCRD staff will visit those who have been reported violating the water restrictions. First-time offenders will be given a warning and information and repeat offenders will be fined $400.
Because the water level is critically low and little rain is in the forecast, the SCRD is asking people to take steps to conserve water inside too. The SCRD has reduced its water use by no longer watering playing fields and delaying the installation of ice at the Sechelt arena. The annual water main flushing program has been postponed in the Chapman water supply area.
– With files from Sean Eckford