Capital Region water use down

Cooler weather, conservation help to lower usage

There’s plenty of water to go around in the Capital Region this summer, but don’t expect watering restrictions to be removed any time soon.

The Sooke reservoir, the primary source of water for the region, has had higher-than-average levels this year, thanks in part to below-average temperatures and a subsequent lower demand for water for recreational use.

And while there’s been very little rain over the past few weeks, the region has seen above-average precipitation levels so far this year, which has kept the reservoir close to capacity.

The water level did not start dropping until late May, which is the latest peak in several years, and the reservoir was still 98 per cent full in mid-June.

But it’s not just the weather which has led to the increased reservoir volume.

“It’s conservation. People are sticking to the script, so to speak,” said Jan Van Niekerk, senior manager of customer and technical services with the Capital Regional District.

In fact, residents used 12.7 per cent less water between Jan. 1 and June 30, compared to the average for the same time period over the previous five years.

So far this year in Oak Bay, water usage has dropped eight per cent compared to 2010. That equals over 64 million fewer litres used in the first half of the year. Part of the drop can be attributed to the lower-than-average temperatures this summer.

Because it hasn’t been as hot, recreational water use has dropped.

The primary factor remains Stage 1 of the CRD’s water conservation bylaw, which restricts lawn watering with sprinklers to just two days a week between May 1 and Sept. 30, among other measures.

Despite the higher reservoir levels, don’t expect those watering restrictions to change in the foreseeable future.

“Stage 1 is basically the status quo now,” Van Niekerk said.

On the flip side, she said, the likelihood of the CRD having to go to Stage 2 or 3 restrictions this year is almost nil. “I don’t think that’s a possibility for this year, unless there’s a quality issue or a disaster.”

As of July 10, the Sooke Reservoir was 91.5 per cent full.

editor@oakbaynews.com