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Water demand rising in Campbell River

Gabriel Lessard-Kragen fills his water bottle using the city’s new drinking water station at Dick Murphy Park, one of four which are also located at Spirit Square, Robert Ostler Park, and Frank James Park. - Photo submitted
Gabriel Lessard-Kragen fills his water bottle using the city’s new drinking water station at Dick Murphy Park, one of four which are also located at Spirit Square, Robert Ostler Park, and Frank James Park.
— image credit: Photo submitted

The recent warm, dry weather is pushing the city’s drinking water supply to its limit.

The city says there has been a noticeable increase in water consumption as people try to cope with the warmer weather.

Jennifer Peters, the city’s utilities manager, said the capacity of the city’s water system is 1,065 litres per second but 300 litres of that is reserved for fire suppression, leaving 765 litres per second for domestic water use.

Residents have already exceeded that limit once this summer.

“Due to hot and dry days at the end of June and beginning of July, water demand has already exceeded 800 litres/second, exceeding the allotment reserved for domestic use,” Peters said in a city staff report. “With hotter and drier days comes a higher risk for urban fires, thus highlighting the importance of the fire suppression water allowance.”

Peters said Environment Canada is forecasting hot, dry weather for the next two weeks, which could force a water ban.

“We are expecting the domestic water usage to remain high during this period and throughout the summer unless further restrictions are in place,” Peters said.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, held after the Mirror went to press, council was expected to debate giving the city manager the authority to change the watering restrictions on a day-to-day basis.

The alternative is scrambling to schedule a special council meeting on a moment’s notice in order for council to make the decision.

“The proposed resolution would enable us to manage water demands during the peak usage period of summer,” Peters said.

“The water ban (stage three) is very restrictive and would only be used in cases of extreme and sustained drought situations or inter-urban fire situations.”

The last time Campbell River was under a stage three water restriction was in 2009 when the water demand exceeded the city’s entire water capacity.

Under stage three watering restrictions, watering lawns, filling swimming pools, hot tubs, and fountains, as well as washing a vehicle or boat is prohibited.

Trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables can only be watered between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. and sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, outdoor windows and outside building surfaces can only be washed down if necessary for applying a product such as paint or stucco.

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