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Whistler's lowest water flows in 12 years leads to further water restrictions

Level 2 restrictions limit lawn sprinkling to one day a week
DWINDLING SUPPLY Hot and dry conditions this summer have led to a decrease in water levels at Whistler's main water supply, 21 Mile Creek, pictured. File photo

With Whistler’s main water supply dwindling, the municipality is “urgently” asking the public to help conserve water, limiting sprinkling across the community.

Level 2 water restrictions will go into effect Thursday, Aug. 20, for both residential and commercial properties. This means lawn sprinkling will be reduced to one day per week during the following allotted times: from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursdays for even-numbered addresses; and the same times on Wednesdays for odd-numbered addresses and civic properties with no fixed address.

Garden hoses are also prohibited from washing hard surfaces, although washing cars is permitted with a spring-loaded nozzle.

If the water shortage becomes more severe, Level 3 water restrictions, which prohibit sprinkling at any time, could be implemented.

As Emerald is not on Whistler’s main water supply in 21 Mile Creek, properties there remain under Level 1 restrictions, meaning sprinkling is permitted two days a week.

Lower than normal rainfall and alpine snowpack this year has resulted in the lowest water flows in 12 years at 21 Mile Creek, according to the municipality.

“The overall community demand steadily increases at this time of year,” said the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s (RMOW) general manager of infrastructure services, Joe Paul.

“Unfortunately the supply continues to diminish, so it’s because the supply is diminishing that we have to implement these Level 2 restrictions.”

Shrinking reservoirs also hampers the RMOW’s ability to prepare for a major fire, explained Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

“If we don’t have an adequate water supply and there’s a fire or wildfire, we will be in significant trouble,” she said.

“We’re really asking people, pleading with people to comply with these new restrictions. We would not be going into these Level 2 restrictions unless we absolutely had to.”

To reduce water usage, residents are asked to water plants, vegetables and lawns less, and avoid refilling swimming pools and hot tubs at this time. Visit for more ways to conserve water.

The community has so far done well this summer to conserve “a significant amount of water,” the RMOW said, although persisting dry conditions have proved a challenge.

Municipal utilities staff has embarked on an ambassador program to teach the public about water conservation by distributing warning notices and pamphlets.

“Now (municipal staff) is going out everyday to check things out at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, and they’re having a hard time trying to find people that aren’t complying (with the water restrictions), which is very good news for us,” said Paul.

The RMOW is also doing its part to limit water use through several initiatives, including an ongoing leak-reduction program, the replacement of the Alpine Water Main, and a 20-per-cent reduction in water used to irrigate municipal parks. The municipality has also cancelled its water main flushing program, which would have used an amount of water equivalent to 800,000 toilet flushes.

Residents are asked to contact Bylaw Services at 604-935-8280 or to report any water use violations.

A report to council on the community’s water usage and conservation is expected in the coming months.