Some Sunshine Coast residents are now under the most severe water restriction that can be imposed after a prolonged drought has nearly depleted a major reservoir.
The Sunshine Coast Regional District, which supplies drinking water to the Lower Sunshine Coast, implemented Stage 4 water restrictions on Friday for communities that rely on the Chapman water system.
“Due to sustained heat and hardly any rain in the past few months, Chapman Lake levels have dropped triggering the need to start using the Chapman siphons and Edwards lake storage,” said Dean McKinley, chief administrative officer of the regional district, in a news release.
“This has unfortunately led us to have to make the difficult decision to move to severe water regulations.”
Under Stage 4 restrictions, outdoor water use is banned. That includes watering trees, plants, gardens; construction activities; road and property maintenance such as washing sidewalks, driveways, and windows.
The prohibition also applies to commercial farms, although they are given a two-week grace period.
Chapman Lake, which provides most of the drinking water to the Lower Sunshine Coast including Sechelt, Roberts Creek and Halfmoon Bay, is now at 12 per cent capacity.
The regional district imposed Stage 3 water restrictions in early August. At the time, the lake’s water level was just below 65 per cent.
The Eastbourne water system, which supplies water to eastern Keats Island, is also under Stage 4 restrictions.
This is the third year the Sunshine Coast has hit the most extreme water restriction level.
Last year, drought conditions forced the district to declare Stage 4 restrictions on Aug. 31. A state of emergency was declared in October, banning large commercial water users like breweries, cideries, and cement companies from using water in order to prioritize remaining supply for residents and essential services such as hospital and fire protection.
The Stage 4 restriction wasn’t lifted until Dec. 13.
During a news briefing earlier this week, Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma said this season’s drought was unprecedented, “truly… a sleeping giant of a natural disaster that we are challenged with right now.
“The impacts will be very, very real.”
About 80 per cent of the B.C. is at drought Levels 4 or 5, the two most severe classifications.
Low rainfall records set in B.C. this summer as severe drought continues
Wildfire officials optimistic but keeping eye on ‘unprecedented’ drought in B.C.
B.C. residents urged to conserve water as drought conditions worsen
Gibsons mayor calls for faster action by Victoria on Sunshine Coast water woes
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