The government of British Columbia declared a Level 3 drought for the North Thompson Valley on Aug. 5, but District of Clearwater has been working on the situation for several years, according to chief administrative officer Leslie Groulx.
“We already know our water usage is higher than the average community in B.C.,” she said. “In 2012 the District adopted a Water Conservation Plan, which had recommendations to first understand where the unaccounted for water is going.”
Groulx pointed out that understanding the quantity of unaccounted for water losses is essential for the District to better assess the potential savings associated with the various conservation measures.
In the fall of 2013, town council ordered an acoustic leakage study. This resulted in the discovery of leaks in seven different areas. These were fixed in the spring of 2014.
The District also participated in a couple of Drinking Water Week programs at the schools in 2013.
“Our consumption continues to be higher than it should be, with unaccounted for water usage,” Groulx said. “The District has now applied for an infrastructure planning grant to complete a nighttime leakage study. This will assist in further understanding where there are more leaks that are harder to detect.”
The CAO pointed out that night is a good time to look for leaks because the demand is significantly lower. This makes it easier to detect smaller leaks in the system.
“We know the benefits to reducing water consumption will give us increased capacity of existing supply works, reduce operating costs including energy use, and make greater water resources available to fish, wildlife, etc.” she said.
Groulx said the District is looking at stepping up the watering restrictions for the remainder of this season.
“There are a couple ways this can be accomplished,” she said. “Some communities have gone to Stage 2, which is to be very prescriptive of what can and cannot be watered and when.”
Another option would be to change watering days to two days per week. At present, people are allowed to sprinkle their lawns and gardens every other day – homes with even-numbered street addresses on even-numbered days, and odd-numbered addresses on odd-numbered days.
Any additional water restrictions will be dealt with during the Aug. 18 town council meeting.
Consideration will be given to whether those that do not comply should receive a warning and then a fine if they continue to water when not supposed to. This is not in a bylaw but certainly has been past practice.
In the meantime, the municipality asks that citizens adhere to the current watering restrictions as outlined in the community newsletter that went out recently.
The District of Clearwater official said that people need to be aware that the District cannot use its gravity system due to unusually low water in Russell and Hascheak creeks this year.
That means the District is required to use Well #2 (located across from Dutch Lake beach) more often, which has some manganese in its water.
Although the manganese is not a health risk, it does create brown water issues.