British Columbia

Nanaimo, Parksville move to level 4 water restrictions with extreme drought conditions

A popular B.C. seaside tourist zone is so drought-stricken that faces the toughest water restrictions levied in far.

Vancouver Island hit hard by water shortage as hot, dry weather continues

Courtenay Knight are taking water restrictions and cut backs to a Parksville spray park hours in stride. (CBC)

A popular B.C. seaside tourist zone is so drought-stricken that it faces the toughest water restrictions in B.C..

​City officials say if people continue to water and power wash at the current rate, Parksville and the area surrounding Nanaimo will run out of water. 

"We will run out of water. Literally right now if we continue at the consumption levels that we are at right now we will have insufficient water by end of August." said Fred Manson, Parksville's chief administrative officer.

The new restrictions are Level 4, and affect Parksville and the District of Nanaimo — but not the City of Nanaimo, which remains at Level 2 water restriction. The area relies on local rivers, which were already low because of a reduced snow pack.

The new rules mirror those in the Level 3 restrictions already in place in the Comox Valley and the Cowichan Valley, which uses a different rating system, and the Level 4 restrictions announced for Salt Spring Island last week.

Parksville is cutting the hours it runs its popular children's spray park to conserve the water. (CBC)

The decision by Parksville city and District of Nanaimo officials came after water storage levels dipped low enough that it could impact their ability to fight a large fire or supply the city residents with water if there is another fire.

"I knew it was serious," said Grae Dickason, owner of Home Pro Painting, who lives in Nanaimo.

He says his city's water source is a reservoir and does not rely on run-off fed rivers as in Parksville and Nanoose Bay, but the water restrictions still hit his business hard. He can't use city water to clean "algae and moss, spider poop and bird poop" off homes he's working on in the district of Nanaimo.

Dickason is considering the cost of hiring a water tanker and tallying the loss the drought is costing his painting business. 

"By the time the rain comes it's the wrong time of year to be painting." 

Resort towns and beach destinations like Parksville and Nanoose Bay are now under Level 4, the highest water restrictions in B.C.

Courtney Knight is visiting Parksville from Whistler with her toddler, and says cuts to opening hours at the spray park will affect their day.

"It will definitely restrict our time at the park, but it's understandable," Knight said, who extended her stay in Parksville, because the air quality from wildfires was so bad back at home in Whistler. 

While most commercial lawns, such as golf courses, have their own wells, other businesses such as car washes are shutting voluntarily to conserve precious drops.

What does Level 4 mean?

 • No outdoor sprinkling, even newly seeded lawns.

• Limited (hand-held container or hose equipped with shut-off nozzle) watering of vegetable gardens, trees, shrubs and flowers. Drip irrigation only between certain hours.

• No vehicle washing.

• No building or driveway washing.

• No filling pools or fountains.


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