Stage 2: Cowichan Valley residents must curb water use

All areas of the Cowichan Valley Regional District will be under at least Stage 2 watering restrictions as of Monday, June 6.

With a dry spring continuing, all areas of the Cowichan Valley Regional District will be under at least Stage 2 watering restrictions as of Monday, June 6.

But some isolated areas of the Cowichan region that are more prone to water issues during dry periods are already operating under the more severe Stage 3 water restrictions.

Kate Miller, manager of environmental services at the CVRD, said the Cowichan Lake area is fortunate to have a large water storage capacity in the lake.

But the snow pack that feeds Cowichan Lake disappeared quickly this year and Catalyst Paper, which operates the Cowichan Lake weir, has successfully lobbied the provincial government to reduce the flow into the river to summer lows already, so that the existing water supply will stretch to September.

Other areas of the district, like Chemainus, are this year reporting the lowest water levels on record.

A day of rain, such as occurred last weekend, can give people the wrong impression about water levels, officials warned.

There was not nearly enough rain last Saturday to make a lasting impact, Miller said, and what did fall largely ran off the dry ground.

It would take days and days of continuous precipitation to make a dent at this point Miller said.

Officials in the CVRD are advising residents to stay informed about water restrictions and rules around water use in their areas as the warm season progresses, particularly if the dry conditions continue.

The best place for updates is the regional district’s website and the local media.

Stage 2 water restrictions require that the watering of lawns only be permitted either between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., or between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays for even-numbered houses, and Thursdays and Sundays for odd-numbered houses.

The washing of driveways, houses and sidewalks is not permitted at this stage.

For those operating under Stage 3 restrictions, only the watering of gardens, trees and shrubs are allowed, but under severely restricted times.

Brian Dennison, manager of water management at the CVRD, said it’s difficult to find the resources to ensure that people are following the rules around water restrictions “in a realistic way.”

“But we’re finding most people are responsible and will follow the rules, and encourage others to do so as well,” he said.

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