NSSWD moves to Stage 4 water restrictions


North Salt Spring Waterworks District is moving to its most extreme watering restrictions this afternoon as low precipitation and dropping lake levels have elevated drought conditions.

Under the Stage 4 restrictions, ratepayers with the district will be permitted to hand-water trees and gardens on alternate days for a maximum of two hours and to use microdrip irrigation of trees, shrubs and gardens during permitted hours. All other outdoor uses are now banned including sprinkler watering, car washing and the topping up or filling of pools and hot tubs.

“We’re in a very serious situation here. We’re taking some drastic measures to try to turn this around,” NSSWD operations manager Vaughn Figueira commented during the district’s July 29 board meeting.

Data on the district’s two water sources shared during the meeting shows levels at St. Mary Lake have dropped to below all other recent drought years on record dating back to 2009, except for a slightly lower drop in 2015. Maxwell Lake is now at its lowest compared to other drought years in that period.

Precipitation recorded at St. Mary Lake was slightly higher compared to the normal climate average during last fall and early winter, but the amount has been below average ever since February.

NSSWD financial officer Tammy Lannan reported that water consumption had increased by close to 30 per cent during May and June as a result. The district billed over $72,000 more than budgeted in water tolls in June alone.

“People started their gardens early because of COVID and because it was so hot they started watering earlier this year,” Lannan commented.

While the lakes typically reach their lowest point in either September or October, the district is already looking ahead to a potential situation where it might exceed the maximum draw allowed by the provincial government. Staff have submitted an application for short-term water use at St. Mary Lake that would allow NSSWD to go below the minimum fill line. Other license holders that draw water from the lake have been notified.

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