Long-term snow levels unknown

Greater Vernon officials won’t guarantee that all of the snow now will translate into lots of water this summer.

A couple of major storms have passed through the region in the past week, leaving substantial amounts of snow at higher elevations.

“Conditions are looking favourable at this point,” said Al Cotsworth, utilities manager for the Regional District of North Okanagan.

“We look at the snowpack readings at Silver Star and everything is looking good.”

Presently, there is a snow base of 205 centimetres at Silver Star.

However, Cotsworth cautions that it’s early in the season and a number of factors could erode the snowpack and lead to limited water availability in the summer.

“The concern would be if we got no more snow and a ton of sunshine,” he said.

“The snow will sublimate (evaporate without turning into a liquid first). You can lose a lot of moisture through that process.”

As spring arrives, warmer-than-expected temperatures and rain can also negatively impact the local snow levels.

RDNO staff will visit the Aberdeen Plateau at the end of January to investigate snowpack levels and the current status of the reservoirs that provide water to Greater Vernon.

Because of the uncertainty around the area’s water resources, residents are encouraged to conserve.

“This is a great time of year because you are not using water outdoors,” said Cotsworth.

He added that residents can review potential water waste if their meter dial is running but appliances are not using water.

“Check for leaks, especially with toilets.”


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