2015 Drought: Metro Vancouver Region in Uncharted Territory!


Note to Reader:

The ‘new normal’ in British Columbia is drought and flooding. The summer dry season has extended on both ends and communities can no longer count on a predictable snowpack and reliable rain to maintain a healthy water balance in their watersheds.


Stage 3 Water Restrictions Ban Lawn Sprinkling

On July 20, 2015 Metro Vancouver moved to Stage 3 water restrictions – for the first time since 2003 – banning all lawn sprinkling with treated drinking water and bringing in a number of other water conservation measures.

Mayor_Darrell Mussatto 2014_trimmed_120p“We are in uncharted territory, we’ve never had it this dry ever in recorded history,” said North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto, who also chairs Metro Vancouver’s Utility Committee.

“So we are under great stress at the reservoirs, consequentially we have to reduce our consumption.”

With reservoir storage levels at 73% and dropping, Metro Vancouver region moves to next stage of Water Shortage Response Plan

The move follows last week’s provincial declaration of a Level 4 drought for the South Coast and Fraser Valley, which warned if supplies continued to dwindle, there could be water shortages that affect people, industry and agriculture.

Daily water consumption in Metro Vancouver has dropped from a high of 1.7 billion litres a day at the start of July, but is still too high at 1.4 billion litres a day, the regional district said in a statement.

Cleveland Dam_20150707_2000pMussatto says not enough people are taking water restrictions seriously.

“We would have liked to see less people watering their lawns,” he said, referring to when Stage 2 water restrictions were put in place earlier this month. “Everyone needs to do their part to reduce our consumption.”

Reservoir levels sit below 73 per cent — a level outside the normal range for this time of year.

Mussatto says last week the region started diverting water in high alpine lakes into the Capilano Reservoir. He anticipates more alpine water will be diverted into the Seymour Reservoir.

“We need rain and we need it now,” he said. “Three or four days of solid rain.”

To Learn More:

The restrictions only apply to treated drinking water — which for most in the region, is what comes out of the tap or hose. The rules don’t apply to so-called “grey water” — defined as household waste water that does not come from toilets — recycled water or collected rain water.

Read the full list of Stage 3 water restrictions

If the region moves to Stage 4 restrictions — the highest in the water shortage response plan — all water parks will shut down, along with commercial car washes. All hosing of outdoor surfaces and watering of flower and vegetable gardens would also be banned.

Cleveland Dam - dropping water level (July 19, 2015) (Photo Credit: Cameron Stephens)

Cleveland Dam – dropping water level (July 19, 2015) (Photo Credit: Cameron Stephens)