The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) has declared Stage 4 water restrictions, the most severe level of restriction, banning all commercial use of water and residential outdoor tap use effective Thursday, Aug. 13.
Mayor of Sechelt, Bruce Milne, acknowledges the restrictions will be a hardship for some homes and businesses.
"Backyard gardening is not allowed," said Milne in a phone interview. "And commercial activities whether it's on construction sites — they use water a lot for dust control — or whether it's commercial car washes, even the nurseries like Canadian Tire or London Drugs...they can't be using water."
Wayne Row, Mayor of Gibsons, which also falls in the SCRD, says invoking harsh restrictions now is the only way to ensure people will have water in the fall.
"I think everybody appreciates that the important thing is to make sure that we have domestic water," said Row. "The Stage 4 restrictions [will] ensure that we have sufficient water to provide to people's homes well into October."
Row added the level in the Chapman Lake reservoir which feeds Gibsons has dropped to a trigger point. The last time it reached the same level was in October 2012. The lake has never been so low this early in the year.
'Remarkable' water conservation efforts
The ban covers customers south of Pender Harbour, as those living on the north end of the region remain at Stage 1 restrictions. Commercial food growers with farm status and water meters are exempt from the ban.
It's believed the Sunshine Coast Regional District is the first in B.C. to enact such a Stage 4 ban. Other regions — such as the Nanaimo Regional District — have enacted Stage 4 restrictions, but they have different criteria, and still allow hand watering.
Residents should use "clean grey water" — water from a bathtub or sink — to water outdoor plants and vegetables, said a district news release.
The district decided to enact the ban despite water conservation efforts it described as "remarkable."
"Water use has decreased by approximately 40 per cent since going to Stage 3," said SCRD general manager Bryan Sjohi.
"Unfortunately, this unprecedented hot and dry weather has resulted in drier conditions within the watershed."
What is banned?
Under Stage 4 restrictions on the Sunshine Coast, virtually all outdoor watering is banned.
- No using tap water through garden hoses, irrigation systems, sprinklers or even watering cans.
- No filling any pools, hot tubs or fountains.
- No washing driveways, sidewalks, vehicles, boats or other equipment.
- No using power washers.
What is allowed?
- Commercial food growers with farm status and water meters can water their crops.
- Homeowners can water outdoor plants, vegetables with bath or sink "grey water."
How long will it last?
There is no end date to the water ban, as the SCRD expects the hot, dry weather to continue into the fall.