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Water restrictions, campfire ban imposed in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Faith Jiggins enjoys a cool-down in her grandmother’s sprinkler last week. - LISSA ALEXANDER PHOTO
Faith Jiggins enjoys a cool-down in her grandmother’s sprinkler last week.
— image credit: LISSA ALEXANDER PHOTO

With no forecast of significant rainfall both Parksville and the Regional District of Nanaimo have upped their water restrictions another level.

"This is a precautionary step to ensure adequate water supplies are in place well into the fall months," said RDN water services manager Mike Donnelly.

Level three restrictions ban the washing of driveways and sidewalks, the use of decorative fountains without re-circulated water and filling swimming pools, garden ponds, and fountains. Additionally, residents must use a hose equipped with a shutoff device for vehicle and boat washing.

The new conditions allow for sprinkler watering from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on an every other day basis. Odd numbered addresses may water on odd numbered days and even numbered addresses may water on even numbered days. Residents may water for up to one hour per period.

Donnelly said Vancouver Island is currently rated by the province at drought level three meaning it is "very dry."

He said the stress on the existing water supply in combination with warm temperatures resulted in enforcing more stringent conditions on water.

"Groundwater is replenished typically with winter precipitation (snow and rain) which is stored in aquifers that provide a supply of water to residents," explained Donnelly. "Both in 2013 and to date in 2014 we have experienced a reduction in winter rainfall, reduced snow-pack (60 per cent of normal this year) and a drier trend in general."

Water restrictions will remain in place until further notice.  Despite increased regulations in Parksville and RDN areas, Qualicum Beach remains at water conservation level two, meaning nothing has changed for town residents.

“There are no signs from our water supply that anything like that (raising water restrictions) will be necessary,” said Bob Weir, Qualicum Beach director of engineering, utilities and airport.

Qualicum Beach residents are allowed to water every day, with prohibitions from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“Our basic rule is don’t water when the sun is up,” said Weir. “It spreads the demand out on our water system which is one of the biggest advantages — if you put anything on a time slot it’s hard on the system.”

For more information on water restrictions in Parksville or the RDN visit: www.parksville.ca or www.rdn.bc.ca.  Along with water restrictions, the hot weather is affecting fire bans and officials are predicting campfires will be banned for the August long weekend.

While there is currently no campfire ban in place, Coastal Fire Centre (CFC) fire information officer Marg Drysdale said “there is a high probability that there will be a campfire ban in place by Friday (Aug 1).” (Editor’s note: the ban was issued Wednesday afternoon and is in ewffect starting Friday.)

Drysdale told The NEWS there have been 95 wildfires recorded in the coastal region which includes all of Vancouver Island since April 1. Drysdale said 72 of those fires have been human caused and 23 have been lightening caused.

“These are higher numbers than last year,” she said. “But the ten year average to date is 121 fires so we’re below that at 95.”  Drysdale said since the end of June, the number of wildfires increased dramatically. For more information or updates on wildfires in the region visit: www.bcwildfire.ca/aboutus/Organization/Coastal.

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