The Westbank Irrigation District has become the second in the Central Okanagan to restrict watering to two days a week because of concerns about the amount of water available in storage for the coming season.
The penalty for non-compliance is to turn off the customer’s water service, but that wouldn’t occur until after two warnings, says WID manager Brian Jamieson.
The WID board made the decision to move to stage two water use restrictions immediately because three of the district’s six reservoirs are not expected to fill this year.
All are normally full at this time of year and typically remain full to the end of June.
However, a low snowpack and a particularly dry spring with a hot spell in May and June has meant the district is already drawing water from reservoir storage, about a month earlier than normal, in order to meet customer demand.
“The runoff from the low snowpack this past winter was just not enough to replenish our water supplies going into the irrigation season,” said Jamieson. “It’s critical that we reduce demand to avoid running out of water.”
Jamieson said they hire staff seasonally to enforce the regulations, with the first contact intended as discussion and education.
Staff will be even more diligent about monitoring now that the second stage of restrictions are in place, he said. They drive around at different times of the day, and because water consumption is now metered, and they can be read individually if needed, staff will be able to document use.
The service charge for turning off a customer’s water and turning it on again is $50 for each, so it would cost $100 for using water in non-compliance with the regulations.
The restrictions affect residential, commercial and institutional customers and Jamieson said they will be closely monitoring water use by agricultural customers.
A week ago, the South East Kelowna Irrigation District included farmers in its water use restrictions, with a 20 per cent reduction in agricultural use. Agricultural users are metered in SEKID, and a far greater percentage of the district’s water is for farm use than in WID.
In the WID area, customers living or running businesses at even numbered addresses can only water on Tuesdays and Saturdays while those at odd numbered addresses can only water Wednesdays and Sundays.
In SEKID, it’s the opposite, with people at even-numbered addresses permitted to water on Wednesdays and Sundays, and odd-numbered ones on Tuesdays and Saturdays.