The province has raised the drought level on Vancouver Island to Level 5, the highest level possible, due to the ongoing dry conditions.
In response, water systems operators across the Cowichan region have collaborated to develop new emergency Stage 4 water restrictions.
“This is a drought situation that we’ve come close to in the past, but never experienced until now,” said Aaron Stone, chairman of the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
“It’s been months since we have had significant rainfall in the region, and for many of our watersheds, the circumstances are dire. Please be conscious of water use. Look at and embrace the restrictions we’re asking everyone to adhere to until the rains return. Water is our most precious and critical resource. We’re all in this together when facing such an extreme drought.”
The Stage 4 restrictions were also developed in partnership with experts from all water purveyors in the region, including municipalities, First Nations and improvement districts, based on staff expertise and risk-based assessments.
The new restrictions are only being implemented in two water systems in the CVRD at this time.
The affected areas are Shellwood in the North Oyster/Diamond electoral district (Area H) and Burnum in the Shawnigan Lake electoral district (Area B).
Under Stage 4 water restrictions, all use of water for any purpose other than drinking, food preparation and personal hygiene is affected.
Included in the prohibitions under Stage 4 water restrictions are the use of sprinklers, the filling or operating residential or commercial pools, hot tubs, ponds or fountains, and the washing of vehicles, boats, structures or outdoor surfaces.
The hand-watering or micro/drip irrigation for watering gardens, plants and trees is permitted for two hours per day; from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., but should be reduced to minimum essential levels.
As well, the cleaning of outdoor surfaces is only authorized when required by law to comply with health or safety regulations, or to comply with an order of a regulatory authority having jurisdiction, such as WorkSafeBC or a public health inspector.
The watering of public and school district sports fields and community parks will be eliminated where possible and reduced on sand-based fields, and local government outdoor water parks and pools will be closed or operate with reduced hours.
“While compliance with these regulations is voluntary for private well owners, we encourage everyone to do their part to limit water use to these essential purposes only,” a press release from the CVRD said.
Residents in all other areas across the Cowichan region are asked to consider abiding by these restrictions as well and to take any further conservation measures possible.
Last week the province brought in restrictions on water use for some users in the Koksilah River watershed, turning off the taps for industrial use and some agricultural uses, due to severe low flows.
For more information about drought conditions, visit the New Normal Cowichan website.