July 21, 2015 - 11:03 AM
KELOWNA - As drought-like conditions persist throughout the province people are being asked to cut back on water use, which means water restrictions could be around the corner for Kelowna water utility customers, who have not yet faced restrictions this summer.
The province has declared a level three drought in the Okanagan and is sending out a letter to water providers and local governments up and down the lake asking them to voluntarily reduce consumption by 30 per cent.
Kelowna has five water providers within its boundaries and all except the customers of the Kelowna water utility have been on stage one watering restrictions since at least April.
An unconfirmed report has the four other water providers — Glenmore Ellison, Black Mountain, South East Kelowna and Rutland — soon moving to stage two restrictions. Gord Ivans, chairman of the Kelowna Joint Water Committee, was not immediately available for comment.
The city-owned water utility, which draws its water from Okanagan Lake and services customers primarily in the urban part of Kelowna, is the lone utility around the lake where no watering restrictions yet apply.
“We draw from the lake and the lake is in good shape. There are no restrictions because we needed a technical reason to do it and quite frankly, there was none,” utility planning manager Andrew Reeder says. “I can’t speak to the political side."
The Okanagan Basin Water Board is calling on its members, including Kelowna, to abide by the call for reductions, executive director Anna Warwick Sears says.
“That would be neighbourly for the people on the lake intakes to get their residents to cut back. It gets confusing for the public if everyone has different water restrictions,” she says.
Warwick Sears says efforts made now to reduce consumption from all water sources, including Okanagan Lake, will help communities avoid further restrictions down the road.
She says the drought situation the province is facing is unprecedented.
“We’ve never had this kind of drought conditions before. We’re seeing level four drought declarations all across southern B.C. They’ve never had to shut down entire rivers before. It’s happening so fast, the province doesn’t really have its communications stream set up."
Other communities, including Vernon and Penticton, have also placed restrictions on watering, or asked residents to cut back. Fishing has also been restricted on some rivers in the province because of low water levels.
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— This story was updated at 3:08 p.m. Tuesday, July 21, 2015, to correct a comment by Warwick Sears.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015