Hot weather already having an impact on Greater Vernon water supply | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Hot weather already having an impact on Greater Vernon water supply

The Duteau Creek Watershed

VERNON - Unseasonably warm weather has caused Greater Vernon’s water reservoirs to spill earlier than normal, and it's possible that could cause problems down the road.

A substantial snowpack combined with hot weather during the month of April caused the Duteau Creek water reservoirs to fill up fast, and early, this year, the North Okanagan Regional District’s water quality manager Renee Clark says.

It means the reservoirs have filled up to capacity, and started spilling excess water sooner than usual. Compared to the past ten years, Clark says it’s the second earliest they’ve seen the reservoirs start spilling.

Depending on the weather throughout the next couple of months, and when the reservoirs stop spilling, she says there could be concerns about water supply, although it’s too early to know for sure.

“When we spill this early, that is our concern. If the spill ends early, then we’re going into our stored water,” Clark says, adding it would be ideal if the reservoirs continued spilling into early June.

The water utility will be keeping a close eye on water demand and weather projections over the next few months to determine whether water restrictions will be needed. Last summer, the regional district went to stage one watering restrictions after the reservoirs spilled early, forcing the usage of stored water sooner than usual.

“We really rely on rain in June so if that month is very dry, then our water usage goes up. If the May/June rains don’t occur, we know it’s going to be a bit more critical,” Clark says.

An April 1 report from the River Forecast Centre noted a higher than average snowpack in the Okanagan, and predicted a high likelihood of above-normal temperatures until June. The centre is also forecasting an elevated flood risk in the Okanagan due to the high snow pack.

As Greater Vernon’s reservoirs continue to spill, possibly as long as the next few weeks, Clark is urging people who live, work, or recreate near waterways to exercise caution.

“We want to make sure people are aware there can be some quick changes,” she says.

Click here for water conservation tips. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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