The City of Salmon Arm will be moving to multistage irrigation restrictions in 2023. (Stock photo)

The City of Salmon Arm will be moving to multistage irrigation restrictions in 2023. (Stock photo)

Past drought conditions prompt new staged water restrictions for Salmon Arm

Last summer there were periods when city’s water system was unable to keep up with demand

The City of Salmon Arm will be introducing staged watering restrictions in 2023.

As with the District of Sicamous, the extreme heat and high water consumption experienced last summer prompted city staff to come up with a tiered approach to irrigation in Salmon Arm.

At its Aug. 22 meeting, Salmon Arm council received from staff a proposal for staged irrigation restrictions designed to reduce overall water consumption during drought conditions.

In a report to council, staff explained how in the summer of 2021, the city experienced a level 4 drought and record-breaking daily water demand.

“These high water demands added strain to the entire water distribution system, and in certain areas, the system was unable to keep up with demand creating dangerously low reservoir levels and strain on the water treatment plant,” reads the report.

Staff said while water demand last summer was unprecedented, even in average years, during periods of high irrigation, Zone 2 pumps are unable to keep up with peak-hour demand, resulting in a drawdown of reservoirs.

“This results in potentially insufficient fire storage and could potentially interfere with firefighters’ ability to effectively stop a fire.”

Salmon Arm’s current watering restrictions are in effect from May 15 to Sept. 15. Watering days are designated by a household address, with numbers ending in 00 to 22 being allowed to water Tuesday and Friday, 34-66 on Wednesday and Sunday, and 67-99 on Thursday and Sunday, with no watering allowed on Monday.

Sprinkling can occur on the designated days from 7 to 11 a.m., and from 7 to 11 p.m. No sprinkling is allowed on Monday.

Read more: Options for ramping up watering restrictions proposed for Sicamous

Read more: Increased water demand in Salmon Arm prompts city to encourage conservation

The proposed restrictions use the same address system for designated watering days, and the same hours, but limits watering to a maximum of two hours between 7 and 11 a.m. and 7 and 11 p.m. Residences with automatic sprinkling systems are encouraged to water on designated days between midnight and 7 a.m.

Stage 1 of the new system accommodates watering on three designated days per week for all addresses.

Stage 2 is the same as the current restrictions, allowing watering two days per week.

Under Stage 3, watering would be allowed only one day per week.

At Stage 4, no watering is allowed.

Hand watering would be allowed at any time, though staff said this would be discouraged (though not enforced) during drought conditions.

Coun. Tim Lavery asked if these restrictions would apply to municipal properties. City engineering and public works director Rob Niewenhuizen said they do not apply to city infrastructure, but added that during last year’s drought conditions, the city carefully considered when certain fields were watered.

Staff’s proposal that Stage 1 is in place from May 15 to Sept. 15 was a concern for Mayor Alan Harrison and council, which agreed that Stage 1 should be the default in place year round. Speaking to this, Harrison noted that when the current restrictions are in place, watering hasn’t been allowed on Mondays to allow the city reservoirs to refill.

“The thing I’m driving at here is, when I drive around on Monday, someone is irrigating I know they’re breaking rules because they’re not allowed to irrigate on Monday,” said Harrison.

Staff assured if it looks like there’s going to be a concern, the city will already have moved to Stage 2.

To get the word out to the community about the new restrictions, staff proposed educating the public through social media, the city’s website, local news media, signboards and more.

Stage changes will be decided by Niewenhuizen and the city’s utility manager based on set water consumption points.


lachlan@saobserver.net
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