Fruitvale keeping an eye on its water supply

Most communities doing okay with water restrictions in effect next month

While most communities in the Lower Columbia Basin aren’t concerned about current water supply levels, Fruitvale is the exception and it’s sending up the yellow flag to signal higher water restrictions starting next week.

Fruitvale gets the majority of its water supply from Kelly Creek, and with little rain and record low snowpack in the Kootenays, Lila Cresswell, chief administrative officer for the village, says some households might see a little yellow flag on their lawn after switching to Level 2 restrictions.

“We take part in the little yellow lawn flag program – the water smart flags from the Columbia Basin Trust,” she said. “If you get a little yellow flag in your front lawn, that means they have been watering outside of the times allowed. Most people don’t really realize there are water restrictions in place. We just want to get the word out there.”

Starting on June 1, the Fruitvale watering restrictions are getting bumped from Level 1 to Level 2, meaning fewer watering hours in a day.

Residents will only be allowed one sprinkler per house and are only allowed to have it on between 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. to  9 p.m. Odd numbered houses water on odd numbered days and even numbered houses on even days.

In times of higher demand, the village augments its water supply with two wells. Cresswell says supply is getting low, hence the higher restrictions.

“It is getting a bit low,” she said. “We are a bit concerned that is has been really dry and that means people have been watering more than usual. We got some rain (on Sunday night) but it really wasn’t enough.”

Trail isn’t facing any imminent shortage however, annual water restrictions will also go into effect on June 1.

Chris McIsaac, Utilities Superintendent with the City of Trail, confirmed that the city doesn’t have a lack of water due to the main source flowing fast right in the city’s backyard.

“Well, our main water supply is from the Columbia River, so it is a pretty prolific supply,” he said.

So why are the restrictions being put in place? As it turns out, Trail has one of the highest water consumption rates of any municipality in British Columbia.

“We are trying to reduce our consumption so our peak summer demands are not so high and taking a toll on the system,” he explained. “Ideally, we would get down to the provincial norm which is around 600 litres per person. In Trail, we are up around 1,200 litres per person in the summer. We use quite a bit of water.”

McIsaac says the high water use in the Silver City is due to the large amounts of green space in the area and the need to keep it growing.

The watering restrictions will begin bright and early on June 1, limiting the hours and days a household can have a sprinkler or a hose turned on.

Odd numbered houses can water their lawns on odd numbered days, and even number houses on even numbered days, and only between the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Automatic sprinkling systems, or other automatic sprinklers, will be limited to 30 minutes per watering, and are allowed between the hours of midnight to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to midnight on designated watering days.

Flower beds and gardens are allowed to be watered anytime, day or evening. If using a hose, there must be a flow control device attached, like a nozzle.

The city is discouraging residents from washing sidewalks and driveways during the summer, but if it is required, it is only permitted on a household’s designated day during allotted hours.

Wetting sidewalks and driveways as a form of cooling is prohibited.

Officials are also asked to avoid over spraying onto sidewalks, driveways, streets or alleys to lessen water waste.

McIsaac says it would be unlikely that further restrictions would be put in place, and only if the city’s main water supply, the Columbia River, is compromised.

“If there was a contamination of the river, we would have to provide water to the city from the Bear Creek Well site,” he said. “But, (the Bear Creek Well) wouldn’t produce enough water to meet our summer demands, so we would be in severe water restrictions. There would be no outside irrigation whatsoever. Lots of brown lawns.”

The summer water restrictions will be in place until Sept. 30.

Trail isn’t the only municipality in the Lower Columbia Basin with water restrictions for the summer.

In Rossland, water restriction starts on June 15 until Sept. 30, with the same alternating day watering set-up as Trail, but with different restricted hours. Outlined in Rossland Bylaw 2173, residents can water their lawns on their designated days from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The city also has restrictions around when public parks and open spaces can be watered.

Leigh Adamson with Public Works in Rossland, says that the city isn’t in any imminent danger of a shortage. The water supply for Rossland residents comes from the many creeks that surround the city, she said, filling up the city’s two reservoirs.

“We’re pretty lucky up here,” she said. “Right now we are fine (in water supply). We have two reservoirs up here in Rossland.”

Also starting on June 15, the Village of Warfield will start enforcing rules, similar to those in Trail and Rossland, with odd numbered houses watering on odd number days. Watering is limited to the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with the exception of automatic or underground watering systems, which can run on designated days between midnight at 4 a.m.

The Village of Montrose has restrictions in place all year round, regardless of season or water supply.

Montrose residents are limited to one watering device, like a hose or sprinkler, turned on at a time, and only on designated days. Homes east of 5th St. can water on even calendar days, while on the west side, homes can water their lawns on odd days and only between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. Washing cars or buildings is only allowed with a flow restriction device (or nozzle) on the hose. For more information, all restrictions are outlined in Montrose Bylaw 702.