NSSWD changes water restrictions

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The North Salt Spring Waterworks District has made some changes to its bylaw governing water restrictions. 

Acting district manager Meghan McKee said changes were prompted by public feedback the district has received about the previous bylaw over the years and ensuing research about other jurisdictions’ practices.

“In revising these restrictions we tried to make them closer in line with those of our neighbouring jurisdictions that have similar water supply issues to us, so that would be the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the Nanaimo Regional District and all the municipalities and improvement districts in that area,” she said.

Notable changes will allow cars and boats to be washed at any time in Stage 3 (previously called Level 3), and driveways and buildings for certain purposes with a special permit. Public parks and fields could be watered upon receipt of a permit in Stage 3.

Consultations with School District 64 and CRD Parks and Rec officials revealed that fields could be allowed to go dormant at certain times in summer months without serious consequences, but that they needed water at other times, such as a couple of weeks in advance of a field being used. 

“It’s not necessarily that they will be allowed to water all summer long but that we can have the flexibility to let them do it at the end of August and times like that when they really need it,” said McKee. 

Restriction changes will use data from drought management guide curves being developed by a water resources engineer and based on water models for St. Mary and Maxwell lakes and water-use reduction targets during times of drought. 

“We have relaxed some things in this bylaw, but it’s important to be aware that for Stage 4, while it’s an outright watering ban, we are only expecting to go there every eight to 10 years, and I think about every five years for Stage 3.”

The new restrictions can be viewed on the NSSWD website.

Financial relief

In other NSSWD news, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has informed the district that it cannot extend the March 16 due date for parcel taxes to provide COVID-19 financial relief as it had hoped, because the due date had already passed. 

The district was able to change late penalty dates, however, so that the first penalty of 10 per cent would not come into effect until June 1. An additional five per cent will be charged on overdue amounts on Sept. 1 and a further five per cent on Dec. 1, 2020. For toll penalties and service interruptions, the usual 10 per cent penalty on unpaid water consumption bills will not come into effect until June 16. 

Staff restructuring 

Several changes have taken place following a staff restructuring at the district. Meghan McKee is now acting district manager. Ron Stepaniuk, who plans to retire in December, has assumed the new position of (acting) operations manager. McKee’s former environmental manager position has been eliminated. Tammy Lannan has been appointed office/financial manager, replacing Ken Roggeman.

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