Island’s lake levels dropping fast

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North Salt Spring Waterworks District users could be facing a dry summer as lake water levels are below normal for this time of year.

“2009 was the only year that we’ve been this low and that’s the driest year we’ve had ever,” said Meghan McKee, environmental manager at the district. “We’d hope to be still overflowing at the end of May and at this point we’re about seven centimetres left until we’re not overflowing at St. Mary Lake. That’ll be at the end of April if not sooner.”

The district has monitored levels of St. Mary and Maxwell lakes — its two water sources — since a new system was put in place in 2006, changing from an uncontrolled St. Mary Lake outlet to a controlled one with a weir.

As of April 1, the NSSWD is under Conservation Level 1, which is fairly lenient. Watering gardens and lawns is still allowed, though sprinkler watering is limited to every other day depending on home addresses. Those with even numbered addresses can water on even numbered days. Residents of odd-numbered addresses can water on odd days.

“Our demand starts to go up right about now on Easter weekend. We get busier and people start to water their gardens,” McKee said.

Lake water level is measured by elevation above sea level. The St. Mary Lake intake weir is at 40.70 metres above sea level, which marks full capacity in the lake.

For more on this story, see the April 4, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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