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Heavy water use threatens firefighting capacity

Ban: Non-essential water use prohibited in Campbell River

Effective immediately, all non-essential water use is banned in the Campbell River area.

As of Tuesday morning, the city has enacted a stage three water ban – the first since 2009.

With the hot weather over the past week, residents have drawn so much water from the domestic water supply that the city’s capacity to fight fires has been compromised.

Nathalie Viau, the city’s utilities project supervisor, said the city reserves 300 litres of water per second for fire suppression and 765 litres per second for residential and commercial use.

“Over the last couple of nights we’ve been over 765,” Viau said. “It was at 880 (Sunday) night. Right now, we’re over our consumable water limits.”

Viau expects the increase in water consumption is due to more people watering their lawns.

Fire Chief Ian Baikie said while he understands people want to keep their yards looking nice, it’s more important to have water on hand to keep the community safe.

“Water consumption has increased each day as citizens react to the recent heat wave, and ensuring that the city’s water system is able to supply enough water for fire fighting is particularly important during this the hottest and driest time of the year,” said Baikie. “While we all like to keep our lawns looking green, the higher priority for water use is community safety.”

The city has year-round watering regulations that restrict even numbered houses to watering only on even numbered days of the month, from 7 p.m. to midnight, and for odd numbered houses on odd numbered days, 7 p.m. to midnight.

But after the recent dry weather, the city is taking its watering restrictions even further.

Here’s what residents need to know:

  • Watering lawns, washing vehicles and filling pools, ponds or hot tubs is restricted.

  • Gardens and plant beds may be hand-watered with an automatic shut-off nozzle between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m.

  • Commercial car washes that re-circulate water may continue operation.

  • Nurseries and farms may continue to irrigate as needed to maintain plant health.

  • Golf courses and sports fields may be watered to prevent permanent loss of plant material.

  • Residents and businesses who do not comply with these restrictions may be subject to a fine.

These restrictions apply to all properties that receive water from the city, including Area D, Wei Wai Kum First Nation, We Wai Kai First Nation and Homalco First Nation.

Jennifer Peters, the city’s utilities manager, said the city’s recreational facilities will remain open during the water ban.

“To ensure there’s an opportunity for residents and visitors to keep cool and have fun in the water during this great weather, the Centennial Pool and Splash Park will remain open,” says Peters.

“Concentrating the use of water in these two locations is more efficient than having multiple backyard sprinklers running in neighbourhoods all over the community.”


Record temperatures


Campbell River was one of 20 communities that broke temperature records on Sunday.

According to Environment Canada, the temperature reported at the Campbell River Airport was 33.6 degrees Celcius at 6 p.m., which broke the previous record of 31.9 C in 1996.

Meanwhile, Monday’s temperature high was 33.2 C at 4 p.m. According to the Weather Network, the record high on July 14 was 35 C in 1979. The record low was 6 C in 1969.

The short term forecast is for a cooling trend.