Sun Peaks Resort Municipality raises water restrictions to stage two

The water restrictions change was implemented because of the ongoing drought and wildfires in our region.
Sun Peaks Resort Municipality raises water restrictions to stage two as Louis Creek experiences drought. Photo by Kyle James

Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) entered stage two water restrictions as of Aug. 9 in response to the Ministry of Forests’ (MoF) requests for the municipality to reduce water use and, as a precaution, preserve water to fight wildfires.

The change comes as worsening drought conditions, heat waves and wildfires impact our region. The MoF requested the municipality reduce water use because flows to Louis Creek are at drought level four, which affects salmon spawning. 

Under the current stage of water use restrictions, implemented by SPMRM, using irrigation and sprinkler systems for gardens is now only permitted on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, depending on an individual’s address. Odd-numbered properties can use sprinkler and irrigation systems on Tuesdays and even-numbered homes can use these systems on Wednesdays. 

Use of these systems is not allowed between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., but hoses and cans are permitted any day during the week. 

Pools and hot tubs can be refilled or topped up when necessary, washing vehicles is allowed and the golf course has reduced water consumption.

SPMRM’s director of infrastructure, Clint Burton, said while local water reservoir levels aren’t a concern, the municipality implemented the restrictions as the Louis Creek watershed is at a level four drought.

“This is really more of a conservation effort in terms of due diligence in addition to the notice that came from the Ministry of Forests about the Louis Creek watershed,” Burton explained. “They are seeing significantly lower water levels in the creek, which can obviously impact the salmon spawning.”

Aquifers that hold groundwater also feed local wells, Burton said. By reducing water use in Sun Peaks, groundwater can hopefully make its way through the watershed and into Louis Creek.

“Anything we can do to limit the interception of that flow will help them,” Burton said.

Other methods of water consumption Burton highlighted included taking shorter showers, filling up the dishwasher and washing machine all the way and installing low-flow water fixtures.

Water use restrictions are also crucial for ensuring fire protection services have the necessary resources, according to Burton. Another factor the municipality considered when implementing water use restrictions is the need for ongoing water system flushing, which uses a large amount of water but is necessary because it keeps water sources safe for consumption. Finally, water use is above average this year, which Burton said is due to several leaks in the water system.

“It is helpful for us if residents inform us of potential water leaks – things like water rising from the ground or constant discharge from the perimeter drains around buildings,” Burton told SPIN.

Through SPMRM’s water service bylaw, the municipality can fine residents who don’t adhere to water use restrictions at a minimum of $200 for their first offence and $500 or more for subsequent offences. 

However, Burton said he’d rather focus on education over punitive measures.

“It’s more of an educational process than an enforcement process. But obviously, if there are people out there blatantly showing disregard for the bylaws, then we have the enforcement in our back pocket.”

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