Area taps into drought plan

New water restriction stages for Duteau users unveiled

A new strategy hopes to conserve water during times of drought while alleviating public conflict.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee has unveiled new water restriction stages for the Duteau Creek source.

“This is an excellent example of something that started out very badly,” said director Patrick Nicol.

Low snowpack and reservoir levels in 2010 forced the Regional District of North Okanagan to  initiate drastic measures, including virtually no outdoor irrigation and a ban on filling pools.

That led to an outcry from residents and businesses such as landscapers and pool installers.

The new drought management plan is the result of extensive consultation with stakeholders.

Five stages of water restrictions have been developed based on a variety of triggers including reservoir levels, snowpack, precipitation trends, economic activity and population growth.

The initial stage is based on normal conditions where reservoir levels are 95 per cent of capacity.

As reservoir levels decline, the other four stages would proceed if required.

Extremely dry conditions are defined as having 10 to 43 per cent of reservoir storage available. With that, one-day-a-week yard watering would be permitted, but no permits would be issued for seeded lawns and the filling and refilling of pools would be prohibited.

The final stage would deal with an emergency loss of water supply.

The next step in development of a plan will see residents asked for input.

“Having the public there is crucial. It has to be done,” said director Mike Macnabb.

Information will be available at www.rdno.ca and letters will be sent out to major users of water.

Input could lead to some revisions of the document and it’s expected the required bylaw would be presented to elected officials early in 2012 for consideration.

Wayne Lippert, GVAC chairperson, is confident the new guidelines will alleviate the concerns of residents and businesses that arose in 2010.

“We have recognized actual levels that could put us into a drought response. We will have a better response to conditions,” he said.