Drought alert won’t prompt tighter rules

The Greater Vernon Utility will not shift from stage one to stage two water restrictions.

The drought rating for the entire Okanagan has escalated but Greater Vernon is staying the course.

While the provincial government initiated level four drought status for the valley Wednesday, the Greater Vernon Utility will not shift from stage one to stage two water restrictions.

“We are in constant conversation with Ministry of Environment representatives,” sid Zee Marcolin, GVW manager.

“The province is managing everyone (the valley) the same and we have a good drought management plan.”

Marcolin admits provincial action puts GVW in a difficult situation as communities are being encouraged to reduce water use by 30 per cent.

“We are going by our plan because it’s data we’ve considered.”

The establishment of a level four drought advisory signals that regional water managers may take additional regulatory actions if they are deemed necessary.

“Any such actions will be site specific depending on individual stream conditions,” states the government.

Specific actions could include the temporary suspension of water licences or short-term water approvals in affected watersheds if necessary.

“Although residential, agricultural and industrial users within municipalities and regional districts backed by reservoir storage are less vulnerable to water supply shortages than water users served by smaller water systems from streams, lakes and wells, all water users are encouraged to observe local water conservation bylaws to prolong water supplies and to maintain flows for fish and ecosystems,” states the government.

There has been a 19 per cent reduction in water use as residents become aware of the need to conserve.

Duteau Creek reservoir levels were checked Wednesday.

“We’re still in stage one (restrictions) but we’re getting close to normal. Rain in late July and cooler temperatures helped,” said Jennifer Miles, water sustainability co-ordinator.

However, Marcolin says there could be concerns about water supply in 2016 if dry conditions continue this year and there is a lack of snow during the winter.

“We’re watching what we’re going into in the fall.”