While much of southern British Columbia is facing a serious drought this year, Summerland has not had to tighten its water use restrictions so far this season.
The drought rating in the Thompson, Nicola, Okanagan and Similkameen regions is at Level 3 under the province’s rating system, while Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast and Fraser Valley are in a Level 4 drought, the province’s most severe category.
At present, the municipality still has plenty of water in its reservoirs, although Summerlanders are still being urged to use water wisely. Other communities, are under severe water restrictions.
Drought conditions are always cause for concern, especially in naturally dry areas such as the Okanagan Valley.
This year’s drought is reminiscent of 2003, a summer characterized by extremely hot and dry weather. That year, severe restrictions were implemented due to concerns that the community’s reservoirs might run dry.
Since the 2003 fire season, several changes have occurred.
The expansion of Thirsk Dam, completed in the fall of 2007, increased Summerland’s water supply by roughly 30 per cent.
The municipality’s shift from a flat rate for domestic water to a metered system helped to reduce water consumption.
The dry summer of 2003 also resulted in an increased awareness of Summerland’s water needs and the importance of conservation. Many who remember that summer have cut back on their water use.
As municipal crews continue to monitor the water in the reservoirs, it is possible that increased conservation measures may be needed later this summer.
However, changes in watering practices within the community have helped to alleviate a potentially serious water problem, at least for the present time.
Good water use habits developed over the past dozen years have helped to minimize the impact of this year’s dry conditions.