OKANAGAN - Despite record-breaking heat and little rain in the forecast, Okanagan communities remain under normal, or phase 1, watering restrictions, but be warned — that could change.
Water utilities are keeping a close eye on supply, demand and weather predictions for the summer, but haven’t yet been forced to elevate restrictions. Kelowna’s five water purveyors, Greater Vernon Water and the City of Penticton are all at normal, or phase 1, conditions, which include some requirements like designated watering days and times.
North Okanagan Regional District water sustainability coordinator Jennifer Miles says imposing stricter restrictions is not something taken lightly, but is, at times, required to conserve water.
“From our perspective, we’re really watching how full our reservoirs are, as well as how much we use that water,” Miles says. “If we have high demand, that will draw our levels down quickly.”
With recent hot weather, water consumption levels have already begun peaking earlier than normal, Miles says. Utilities are hoping for precipitation to top up the reservoirs, but they can’t count on it.
“We always find that we can’t be sure of anything. This year we have a full reservoir, but it’s much earlier than we would be expecting them to be at that level,” Miles says.
Aside from adhering to watering restrictions, there’s more residents can do to help conserve water, and avoid worrying about parched plants if higher restrictions are imposed.
“I’m always encouraging people to plan their gardens and yards as if they’re not going to be using much water. There’s lots of options,” Miles says.
A popular mode of gardening knowing as xeriscaping involves planting drought-resistant plants, some of which you don’t have to water at all after they’re established, Miles says.
Another reason you might want to use water wisely is to avoid a ticket. Those caught not following Greater Vernon watering restrictions could be fined.
“We have a three strike policy. The first visit would be an opportunity to educate the person on restrictions, in case they’re not aware. The second visit is a warning, and the third is a ticket,” Miles says, adding the first ticket is $50, and $100 for any issued after.
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