October 06, 2015 - 1:00 PM
KELOWNA - In the wake of this summer’s drought, Kelowna is adopting permanent outdoor watering restrictions and bumping up its enforcement of the new rules.
While reducing outdoor water use during drought is one benefit, of equal value is reducing the impact of demand spikes during dry summer months on the city’s water pipes and infrastructure.
In a report to Kelowna city council, utility services manager Kevin Van Vliet says the city water utiltity is likely the last municipality of any size in B.C. that doesn’t already use odd-even watering restrictions where the date on the calendar and your house number determine when you can water your lawn and garden.
Summer 2015 was marked by extreme drought levels throughout most of the Southern Interior, the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.
A level four drought advisory, the highest there is, was declared by the for the Okanagan region on July 27 and the province asked all water purveyors to voluntarily reduce consumption by 30 per cent.
Van Vliet says Kelowna did not move to odd-even water restrictions until the beginning of August this summer, long after other communities and irrigation districts around the valley.
The restrictions, and an accompanying media campaign, had the immediate impact of reducing water demand from 15 per cent above the 10 year average production rate to eight per cent below.
While there was no technical reason for imposing the restrictions — Okanagan Lake was still just a few centimetres down from normal — it did bring the city water utility in line with the four irrigation districts that provide water to about 50 per cent of Kelowna residents.
Van Vliet says harmonizing outdoor watering restrictions with the irrigation districts helps reduce confusion amongst residents who may not understand who their water supplier is and also helps foster a culture of water conservation.
During debate, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran told his fellow councillors he thought the city’s response to the drought was much too slow.
“I think we as a council have to wear that but I’m happy to see us taking steps to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Basran added.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015