South Okanagan governments make a plea for voluntary cuts in water consumption

Every drop counts: The City of Penticton and the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen are both asking area residents to reduce water consumption voluntarily by 30 per cent.
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PENTICTON - There are concerns about water supply as the summer’s hot weather combines with minimal rainfall in the South Okanagan.

The Okanagan Similkameen Regional District recently followed the City of Penticton’s move, made last week, to ask residents to voluntarily reduce water consumption by 30 per cent. The regional district was responding to the province’s issuing of a drought level 3 status to include all of the Okanagan last Wed., July 15.

Regional District public works Manager Roger Huston says the idea is to increase awareness of the drought conditions in the hope people will respond and cut usage before mandatory restrictions are implemented.

He says the district has been monitoring ground sourced water supplies and have noticed a slow decline in the water table over the past five years.

None of the regional district’s water purveyors are in imminent danger of water shortages thanks to a recharging of the area’s reservoirs during a wetter period several years ago, but water tables are declining once again.

Huston says mandatory restrictions are not being contemplated at this time.

City of Penticton communications officer Simone Blais says the city has been monitoring its’ reservoir levels, which are currently at a stage normally seen six weeks later in the year and that has public works staff concerned.

“Despite the low reservoirs, we are seeing water use higher than normal. We’ve been monitoring usage since requesting voluntary reductions, but not seeing any decrease in usage,” Blais says.

The City plans to step up communications with key users to ensure people get the message.

“It’s important people do their part while the opportunity is voluntary. The ramifications of not doing anything now could be severe, with harsher restrictions in the future if nothing is done,” she says.

City of Penticton director of operations Mitch Moroziuk says residents with automated irrigation systems could easily do this by cutting the amount of watering time on irrigation timers by 30 per cent.

According to City of Kelowna data, Okanagan Lake is currently 10 to 15 centimetres below the desired lake level for this time of year.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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