Whistler taking steps to cut down on water use 

Neighbourhoods being monitored for water bylaw violations

click to enlarge BC WILDFIRE SERVICE FACEBOOK - ON GUARD Coastal Fire Centre crew leader looks to the Boulder Creek fire earlier this month - .
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  • ON GUARD Coastal Fire Centre crew leader looks to the Boulder Creek fire earlier this month .

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has cancelled its scheduled water main flushing as concerns over drought conditions continue.

"We are most concerned," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden of the water situation in the resort.

"The water main flushing that we do every year has been cancelled and that uses an amount of water than is equivalent to 800,000 toilet flushes, so it is going to save a lot of water."

The on-going efforts to save water by the RMOW comes as the province announces that it is moving to a Level 4 drought. This was enacted July 15 when it was determined that insufficient water supply for community and ecosystem needs is available.

Wilhelm-Morden said the provincial move has not prompted the RMOW to increase restrictions under its water bylaw.

"....What we do in Whistler is based on our water supply and our level of awareness," she said. "Right now we are at a Level 1 sprinkling restriction."

21 Mile Creek, which supplies 50 per cent of Whistler's water, and another source at 19 Mile Creek are being closely monitored, as are all other sources of municipal water.

Water use in municipal parks has been reduced by 20 per cent through modification to the irrigation systems and cutting back the number of hours the outdoor water play area is open at Meadow Park.

Utilities workers are also doing neighbourhood monitoring. Last Tuesday, for example, the entire Tapleys neighbourhood was in compliance.

"We have been out speaking about this on a regular basis to build awareness and to educate people," said Wilhelm-Morden.

"Whistler residents have been water wise in the past, but we are going to have to be more vigilant this year than we ever have."

Warnings have been handed out to residents who are not complying with current water restrictions, but so far no tickets have been issued. Fines of up to $2,000 can be issued for violating the bylaw.

"... If (people) carry on ignoring the Level 1 (water restrictions) they will be ticketed," said Wilhelm-Morden, urging all residents to be vigilant about water use.

Of greatest concern, she added, is the threat from wildfire at this time.

"It would just be horrific if we had an interface fire and a water supply problem," said Wilhelm-Morden.

Currently, there are 159 B.C. fires burning in B.C., down from 197 on July 10. The Squamish Elaho fire (12,132.0 hectares) and the Pemberton Boulder Creek fire (5,361.0 hectares) continue to burn, and are zero contained.

The B.C. Wildfire Service is warning that smoke is likely to return to Pemberton and the corridor, as the weather stays hot and dry this weekend.

Meanwhile, the provincial government is continuing with its plan to get tough with people who start wildfires - so far this year there have been 373 human caused wildfires sending 43,718 hectares of forest up in flames.

It is looking at higher fines, banning people from provincial parks and campsites for repeatedly violating fire prohibitions, and impounding the vehicles of people caught flicking lit cigarette butts out their windows.

Whistler sprinkling restrictions are in effect June 1 to Sept. 30

¥ Odd numbered addresses, or properties with no civic address, are permitted to sprinkle on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

¥Even numbered addresses are permitted to sprinkle on Thursdays and Sundays from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Learn More:

B.C. Drought Information: http://www.livingwatersmart.ca/drought/

B.C. Drought Level Map: http://bcrfc.env.gov.bc.ca/lowflow/droughtmap.htm

B.C. Drought Response Plan (June 2015): http://www.livingwatersmart.ca/drought/response.html

What Can You Do?: http://www.livingwatersmart.ca/drought/action.html

Stream flow and precipitation conditions in B.C. are monitored by the River Forecast Centre -

* Low streamflow bulletins and advisories: http://bcrfc.env.gov.bc.ca/lowflow/index.htm

* Seven-day average streamflow map: http://bcrfc.env.gov.bc.ca/lowflow/7DayFlowGoogle.html

Groundwater levels in provincial observation wells: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wsd/data_searches/obswell/map/obsWells.html

Environment Canada Water Conservation: http://www.ec.gc.ca/water/en/manage/effic/e_weff.htm



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