Water and fire restrictions rise

Extremely hot and dry weather has led to increased restrictions on water use and a ban on open fires in the Cowichan Valley and elsewhere.

Beginning Monday, June 15, the Cowichan Valley Regional District, including Duncan, North Cowichan, Ladysmith, Lake Cowichan and Cowichan Tribes, will to go Stage 2 watering restrictions.

The province has declared that the region is in a Stage 3 drought, but the situation is manageable, according to North Cowichan Mayor and CVRD Board Chair Jon Lefebure.

“If we have reasonable use of water, we are not in danger of our domestic water supply running out,” he said.

The restrictions are not just about dealing with the current conditions, but also about planning for the future. “We are trying to encourage a culture of water preservation,” Lefebure related. “We want to encourage everyone to manage their usage under these conditions. I believe as a community that we have to realize that water can be a scarce resource. With the effects of climate change, we are facing an unsure future in terms of how much we will have an when we will have it.”

Under Stage 2 restrictions, residents are limited to watering their lawns and gardens between 6 and 8 a.m. and 8-10 p.m., for a maximum of two hours per day. Even-numbered houses are limited to watering on Wednesdays and Saturdays, while odd-numbered houses can go on Thursdays and Sundays only.

Micro drip irrigation can run up to four hours a day. Residents are still permitted to fill pools and hot tubs, and wash vehicles, houses and boats, but washing driveways and sidewalks is not permitted.

Nurseries, turf and tree farms, school and municipal playing fields, sprinkling permit holders, car dealerships and other commercial enterprises that require water for normal business activities are exempt from the restrictions.

In the meantime, the Coastal Fire Centre initiated a ban on open fires beginning this past Wednesday, and lasting until Oct. 16.

The ban covers all BC Parks, Crown lands and private lands within the Coastal Fire Centre, which includes all of Vancouver Island. Local governments with their own wildfire-prevention bylaws can permit fires, but residents should check with their local authorities before lighting a fire.

Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

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