Little snow raises concerns for Greater Vernon water levels

Greater Vernon Water officials are monitoring the situation

There are some concerns about the availability of water in Greater Vernon this coming summer.

Snowpack readings were taken at three Duteau Creek watershed sites April 1.

“No snow was reported at two of the stations, which is unusual for April 1,” said Jennifer Miles, sustainability co-ordinator for the Regional District of North Okanagan.

“Readings at the third station show the snow-water equivalent, or water content of the snow, at 77 per cent of average for this time of year. These are unusual readings showing high variability within the watershed.”

Water storage levels in the Duteau Creek reservoirs are currently above average.

“However, the current storage levels are similar to those typically seen in May, suggesting that we may start to use our stored water supplies earlier than normal,” said Miles.

“This could be of concern if the normal precipitation usually received in June is below average.”

According to the B.C. River Forecast Centre, April high elevation snowpack measurements were moderately  low (76 per cent of normal) for the Okanagan basin, which includes the Kalamalka Lake water source. The South Thompson Basin, which includes the Duteau Creek water reservoirs, is at 92 per cent of normal snowpack.

The centre also forecasts below normal stream run-off in the Kalamalka-Wood basins and notes that lower snowpacks in the Okanagan indicate an increased likelihood of low summer flows.

“Seasonal forecasts from Environment Canada indicate a high likelihood of above normal temperatures during the period of April to June,” said Miles.

“High temperatures may increase water demand so Greater Vernon Water reminds customers to use water wisely in light of the low snowpack.”