Water supply in Parksville Qualicum Beach: 'We're in pretty good shape'

Water restrictions for Parksville Qualicum Beach residents are in full swing, but water purveyors don't expect to tighten the reigns any further this summer.

This comes after the 2013 winter season which Regional District of Nanaimo water services manager Mike Donnelly said "saw no snowpack and half the precipitation we usually see." Donnelly said this "generated serious concern" amongst water officials who feared water levels wouldn't be replenished leading to stringent water restrictions in the community.

However, Donnelly said "the skies opened up the second week of February" and snowpack levels recovered significantly to the point where Arrowsmith Dam filled up.

"We're in pretty good shape," he said about the water levels in the mid-Island area.

During the summer months Parksville, Qualicum Beach and RDN electoral areas have different ways of regulating water usage.

In Parksville, project manager for Englishman River Water Service Mike Squire said from May to August residents must practice "water conservation level two." This means residents' "watering times" are from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Residents are allocated four hours per day with even numbered houses on even days and odd numbered houses on odd days.

Donnelly said electoral areas within the RDN including French Creek, Nanoose Bay, Deep Bay, Bowser, Errington, Hilliers and Coombs also practice level two conservation.

However, in Qualicum Beach regulations are a little different.

Qualicum Beach director of engineering, utilities and airport Bob Weir explains the town “looks at it (water usage) from the point of view of stress on our system.” Weir said the town does not restrict residents from watering by the day but by the time.

“There is a prohibition on watering from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. but you can water any day of the week,” he said. “We ask people not to water when the sun is up.”

Weir said this system “allows for more freedom.” He said this is beneficial because “the more you restrict the use of water the greater strain you put on your (water) systems.”

Donnelly said in the last decade, people in  Parksville Qualicum Beach have decreased their water consumption, following a North American trend seeing more conservative uses of water.

Donnelly said the RDN delivers an average of 260 litres of water per person, per day, on an annual basis, just above Parksville’s average of 250 litres. Weir said Qualicum Beach delivers an average of 441 litres of water per person, per day, on an annual basis.

While Qualicum Beach’s numbers far exceed that of Parksville or the electoral areas, all three regions use less water than the provincial average, which is 490 litres per person per day.

These figures includes only residential use — excluding industrial, commercial or agricultural use.

“Water consumption levels are going down,” said Donnelly. “It’s gradual but it’s going down — this points to a cultural change assisted by a technological change.”

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