Unified water restrictions could help alleviate low levels

Water levels at lowest since 1998, says town superintendent.

With summer now in full swing, the Town of Lake Cowichan has implemented watering restrictions as a means to conserve the dwindling water supply of the town. As these watering restrictions progress this year, residents will have to become accustomed to a few changes due to a recent collaboration between Lake Cowichan and neighbouring municipalities.

In previous years, watering restrictions were outlined by each municipality individually, meaning a resident of Lake Cowichan would have different restrictions than her neighbour in Youbou (CVRD Electoral Area I) or Honeymoon Bay (Electoral Area F). The new collaboration between the Town of Lake Cowichan, Duncan, North Cowichan, Ladysmith, the Cowichan Valley Regional District and Cowichan Tribes has produced a unified regulation table and schedule for the communities of the Cowichan Valley.

“Having uniformity is the best thing for our watershed,” town councillor Tim McGonigle said. “Now everyone is on the same page when it comes to watering.”

The Town of Lake Cowichan implemented stage one watering restrictions as of May 1, which are planned to be lifted on October 31. The lightest set of restrictions limits sprinkler use to two hours (6 to 8 a.m. or 8 to 10 p.m.) every other day, hand watering of trees and gardens to two hours per day and micro drip irrigation to a maximum of four hours per day. School and municipal playing fields, as well as some businesses, are exempt from all restrictions.

Ladysmith declared stage two water restrictions to be in effect as of Monday (June 8) with the Town of Lake Cowichan soon following with their own statement that stage two would likely be implemented here as well. Stage two puts additional restrictions on watering new lawns and washing driveways.

The town hopes that the unified restrictions can reduce Valley-wide water consumption rates, which are currently at 246 litres per capita per day according to the CVRD, by at least 20 per cent by the end of 2018 which will likely prove to be important considering the unusually low water levels that the Cowichan Lake is experiencing this year, which the town’s superintendent of Public Works and Engineering Nagi Rizk mentioned is now at its lowest since 1998.

“Lake Cowichan has been acutely aware of the value of water and its impact on daily life,” Mayor Ross Forrest said in a recent press release. “Despite our close proximity to the Cowichan Lake and River, we adopted a program of universal water metering to do what we can to conserve the valuable resource and asset that water is to all of the residents of the Cowichan Valley. We are now very pleased to be part of this new regional initiative on regulating water use”

The town will soon be distributing door hangers, which outline the new restrictions, to all residents. In the meantime, more information can be found on the Town of Lake Cowichan’s website (www.town.lakecowichan.bc.ca) or the CVRD website (www.cvrd.bc.ca).