With much of the Southern Interior now at Drought Level 4 or 5, local governments are taking action to reduce their water usage. This includes the Village of Ashcroft, which on Aug. 3 was informed by the province that as one of the largest water licence holders within the Thompson River watershed — which is at Drought Level 4 — the community must reduce its water consumption by 30 to 50 per cent.
The Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) has also requested that users of its 11 TNRD-operated water systems reduce their consumption.
As of Aug. 11, Ashcroft is on Stage 2 watering restrictions. It means that even-numbered houses are allowed to water on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 6 and 9 a.m. and 8 and 11 p.m. (for hose-supplied sprinklers), or between midnight and 6 a.m. (for underground automated sprinkler systems). Odd-numbered houses are allowed to water during the same times on Thursdays and Sundays.
Hand watering of, or the use of drip or micro irrigation systems for, flower or vegetable gardens, decorative planters, shrubs, and trees is allowed at any time, but hand watering of lawns or grass is not permitted. Residents can also fill and maintain private pools, hot tubs, spas, and ponds.
Ashcroft Chief Administrative Officer Daniela Dyck says the water levels in the Thompson River are lower than last year, when a submersible pump had to be placed into the river to supply water to the municipality until November. She says there are several methods the village will be using to make residents aware of the new restrictions.
“We have a two-sided information sheet [that went in the mail] for all of the residents of Ashcroft saying that we’re going to be entering Stage 2 of water restrictions, which would allow residents to water their gardens and their flowers and planters on their permitted days. But grass irrigation or anything like that is only permitted twice a week.”
An alert was also issued to residents on Aug. 11 via the Voyent Alert emergency notification system, notifying people about the new restrictions.
Dyck says the village plans to monitor water consumption daily, to ensure they are reaching their recommended targets, and broadcast the consumption through posts on their website and social media pages. The public works department will do checks starting every day at 8 p.m., with the information posted online by 10 a.m. the next day.
“I think our residents are pretty conscientious, and I think, for the most part, they tend to be good once they’re aware,” says Dyck. “Our bylaw officer will be going out and about in the community to make sure people aren’t watering outside the Stage 2 water restrictions.”
She adds that the Village of Ashcroft doesn’t want to be heavy-handed, but rather to be aware and water-wise. At this point, non-compliance will be met with a conversation. However, bylaw officers are able to hand out municipal fines.
According to the village, these Stage 2 water conservation restrictions will limit the amount of water that has the potential to be wasted by people using more water than is required to provide a service, produce a product, or complete a task, including allowing a tap or hose to run water unnecessarily and/or over-watering plants or lawns. Anyone requesting to use a watering system in a way that is not consistent with the declared stage must apply for a permit beforehand.
Ashcroft Mayor Barbara Roden says that residents can’t continue to try to “beat” Mother Nature by using more and more water to keep things green.
“We’re trying to encourage people to replace plants like cedars, which are water hogs and pose a huge fire risk, with more drought-tolerant plants, and not to be afraid to let their lawns go a bit brown in summer,” she says. “The grass is resilient; it will bounce back. We can’t necessarily say that about our rivers.”