(Black Press Media file photo)

(Black Press Media file photo)

Cranbrook requesting voluntary compliance with Stage 3 watering restrictions

The City of Cranbrook is asking residents to voluntarily move to Stage 3 watering restrictions — allowing for watering one day per week — in response to rapidly declining water levels in the Phillips Reservoir.

While the request is for a voluntary move to Stage 3, the city warns it could become mandatory if the current rate of water usage continues.

“Maintaining our water levels is imperative so residents can continue to freely use water inside their homes,” says Mayor Wayne Price. “A voluntary move to Stage 3 restrictions by residents will help delay further outdoor watering restrictions for as long as possible.”

Stage 3 water restrictions limits watering to one day a week; odd numbered properties can water on Tuesday and even numbered properties can water on Thursday between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. or 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Residents can still water vegetable gardens or edible plants but there will be no watering on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The city suggests watering in the evenings, as Cranbrook’s soil is mostly clay-based and laws can retain moisture from only one round of watering.

According to the city’s Water Supply Master Plan, the Phillips Reservoir has a capacity of 2270 Megalitres (ML=1 million litres) of raw water storage, while the municipal supply is also supplemented by three wells that provide 11 ML a day.

So what is Cranbrook’s water usage like right now?

Jason Perrault, the city’s Acting Director of Public Works, cited waterless Wednesdays as an example, as no watering is allowed on Wednesdays, even when there are no restrictions in effect.

On the last four Wednesdays over the last four weeks, an average of approximately 13 million litres of water has been treated at the Phillips Reservoir when irrigation is not allowed. On days when irrigation is allowed, the reservoir is treating just under 25 million litres of water.

Do the math and that means approximately 11 million litres of water — roughly five Olympic-sized swimming pools — is being used for irrigation purposes on days when watering is allowed.

Furthermore, the reeservoir water levels, which are the benchmark that trigger watering restrictions, are dropping by an average of 3.5 inches per day.

In addition to requesting voluntary compliance with Stage 3, the city warns that the bylaw department will be stepping up enforcement on the current mandatory Stage 2 restrictions.

“If we don’t see compliance with restrictions, Bylaw will be issuing $100 tickets to property owners,” said Paul Heywood, Manager of Building and Bylaw Services. “Repeat offenders will be fined $200 for their second offence and $500 for every watering offence afterwards.”

The city has additional information on water conservation and Phillips Reservoir data online at https://cranbrook.ca/residents/water-conservation/water-quality/phillips-reservoir-water-levels/