Drought Response in the Okanagan: Summerland Encourages Water Conservation
Note to Reader:
On August 5, 2015, the B.C. government added the Okanagan to its list of extremely dry areas and increased its drought rating to its highest category of Level 4. Although Summerland’s reservoirs were not in distress, the District took proactive measures in late August to ensure the community’s water supply is not depleted.
A Level 4 classification means the area is extremely dry and further declines in stream, lake and aquifer levels could lead to water shortages and affect people, industry such as agriculture, wildlife and fish stocks.
Stage 2 Watering Restrictions
The District of Summerland’s initiatives encouraged residents to reduce their use and included moving to Stage 2 watering restrictions, an extensive conservation awareness campaign, and meetings with agricultural users to promote best watering practices.
Residents were asked to think about conserving water in everyday routines such as taking shorter showers, turning the water off while brushing teeth or washing vegetables, and putting a jug of water in the fridge instead of running water until it is cold. The rationale was that small changes can make big differences when everyone participates.
“We want residents and businesses to understand the seriousness of the water situation in the Okanagan,” says Mayor Peter Waterman. “Everyone needs to work together to do their part and make a conscious effort to voluntarily reduce their water consumption.”
The District announced that “the bylaw department will increase enforcement of water use guidelines. The District will contact agricultural users who are using unusually large amounts of water for irrigation. The municipality will reduce watering on all municipal properties and have postponed annual hydrant flushing which usually takes place in August.”
Stage 2 allows residents to water two days per week before 9am or after 6pm on designated days. Odd numbered addresses may water on Saturday and Tuesday and even numbered addresses may water Sunday and Thursday. Micro-irrigation, drip irrigation or a hose with a shut-off nozzle to water shrubs and gardens can be used on any day at any time.
Taking these steps and conserving water now will benefit our natural ecosystems and may help to avoid further restrictions in the future, emphasized Mayor Waterman.
To Learn More:
The District also announced that it would be sending out educational material to residents to help with awareness. For more tips, visit the District’s website at www.summerland.ca.