Municipal officials aim to curb Squamish residents' water use as the district's pumps hit maximum capacity.
On Thursday (Aug. 8), the District of Squamish raised the community's water restriction protocol to Stage 3, prohibiting residents from watering lawns, filling pools and washing vehicles. The town's infrastructure is running at full steam with 200 litres per second being pumped out of the community's wells, said Bob Smith, the district's operations manager.
“Once we hit our capacity, the reservoir goes down and our surface water comes on,” he said.
Water is then siphoned out of Little Stawamus and Mashiter creeks. The quality of H2O isn't as good as the water that comes from the Powerhouse Springs. Vancouver Coastal Health isn't keen on its use, Smith said.
“From an ecological and health view, we would rather not use them,” Smith said of sourcing the creeks.
Squamish's already high water consumption almost doubles in the summer. Per capita, residents use close to double water than the average Canadian, a cool 688 litres per day. That puts local citizens among the top water users in the world. Communities with the highest daily use in the United States, the country that leads the planet's water consumption according to the Conference Board of Canada, is approximately 575 litres.
It comes down to education, said Meg Toom, who is hired by the district to spread awareness regarding the district's water dilemmas.
“We're pouring drinking water on our lawns,” she said.
Toom was set to go door-to-door this week, letting people know about the restrictions and how they can do their part. The municipality has launched a Internet page www.squamish.ca/water to help inform residents of the Stage 3 rules and their options.
Some of the regulations don't apply to companies that require water to operate, Smith said.
“We don't want to see people lose businesses,” he said.
In the long run, reducing water use would keep money in taxpayers' pockets, Smith noted. District officials are compiling a water master plan.
“We want to get to a point where we are in the national average before we expand the system,” he said.
Stage 3 prohibits residents from watering lawns, filling swimming pools or hot tubs, operating decorative fountains or washing vehicles or boats with water. It also limits the time of day when residents can water flowers and vegetables with a hand-held container, a hose equipped with a shut-off nozzle, or via micro or drip irrigation. Residents may do this from 4 to 9:00 a.m. and from 7 to 10 p.m. on any day. Residents may not wash driveways, sidewalks or buildings during Stage 3 (with some exceptions).