Water from Five Mile Creek enters the Nelson reservoir on Mountain Station Road.

Nelson water shortage persists

Nelson may need an additional water supply in the coming years.

In September, Nelson’s water supply had  more water flowing from its creek sources  than in August, and residents used less water. That sounds like good news. So why are we still under Level 4 water restrictions?

The city’s public works director, Colin Innes, says people are initially surprised by the persistence of water restrictions, “but when they think of the lack of rain lately it all makes sense to them.”

Nelson’s main water source is Five Mile Creek, located in West Arm Provincial Park, which feeds into the main reservoir on Mountain Station Rd. The city also gets relatively minor amounts of water from Anderson Creek in Fairview and Selous Creek at Ymir Rd.

The available creek flow in July was 13.6 megalitres (Ml) per day, in August 6.2, and in September 7.2. So it’s gone up since August. But to put things in perspective, Innes says the usual creek flow in September is about 25 Ml per day, so in September we were at less than 28 per cent of normal intake.

The amount used by city residents, businesses and institutions was 12.6 Ml in July, eight in August following the imposition of water restrictions, and 5.1 in September.

Water use is down in September for some understandable reasons, says Innes.

“People have taken the restrictions to heart, but also the use for watering is down. With all the leaves turning yellow, they don’t water their gardens.”

New water source needed

Innes says the city needs to look for another source of water.

That opinion echoes the recommendations of the city’s water master plan (attached below), written in 2006, which emphatically states that dependence on Five Mile Creek is not an option over the long term.

The plan enumerates a number of shortcomings of Five Mile Creek as the primary source, including:

• It can supply an upper limit of 16.8 Ml per day (not much more than the 13.6 m per day it supplied in July);

• The creek’s yield in the winter was already falling short of demand in 2006;

• The supply line to the city from the reservoir will take a maximum of 11.4 Ml per day, hardly more than the 11.2 consumed in July.

In addition, the plan also cites the risk of forest fire retardant contaminating the water in the event of a wildfire, the effects of climate change, and the risk of landslides.

The plan names some possible secondary sources, namely Kootenay Lake, Grohman Creek and Clearwater Creek and recommends further costing and analysis go into those.

Innes says that hasn’t been done, nor has the city moved very far on the plan’s recommendation that the city institute water metering.

Fixing the pipes has helped

But he says the city has made progress in one important area, and it is related to those ubiquitous street excavations Nelson residents are so accustomed to for much of the year.

“One piece that has been acted on,” he says, “is the underground infrastructure. Had we not made repairs since 2006 we would already be running out of water.”

He says addressing those leaks has increased the efficiency of Nelson’s water supply by about 25 per cent.

Level 4 water restrictions, in effect now within the city of Nelson

• No watering of lawns and boulevards;

• No vehicle washing except at commercial car washes;

• No washing of buildings, driveways, exterior windows or parking lots;

• No filling of pools or hot tubs;

• Trees, shrubs, vegetables and flowers may be watered with a hand-held container or a hose with a shut-off nozzle, micro-irrigation or drip line, daily, from 4 to 10 a.m. and from 7 to 10 p.m.

 

Nelson Water Master Plan

Just Posted

Group wants Nelson considered for basic income

The province is studying a possible pilot project

Critical Condition: ‘People are dying from treatable medical conditions’

Problems with ambulance service policies are systemic and province-wide, advocacy group leader says.

Nelson Greyhound cuts approved

Service will be reduced to two trips in each direction per week

Before the war, ‘a beautiful life’

Syrian refugee family moves to Nelson from Castlegar, Turkey and Damascus

COLUMN: Violence and bullying very much alive in school

Nelson mother says real change is needed

South Nelson sings ‘Wheat Kings’

Grade 4 and 5 students performed at Nelson city council

Glacier sending 3 gymnasts to B.C. Winter Games

Eden Bellman, Dafni van Hellemond, Brianne Stefani are on their way to Kamloops

Arts therapy school applying to offer master’s degree

Kutenai Art Therapy Institute hopes to have a program in place next year

Meadow Creek student wins $100K scholarship

Jesalyn Tremblay is one of just 34 people nationwide awarded the money

Beware the middle class bunnies

Freedom to Read Week at the Library

Reflections of a cool theatre festival

Father and son on a Cariboo trek

LETTER: Refugee family story was eclipsed by a photo of a dog

Kootenay Co-op issues warm greeting to newcomers

LETTER: It’s time to ban semi-automatic weapons in Canada

Gun owner says we are heading to misery if we don’t

Sticking the landing at the B.C. Games

Gymnasts talk competition, B.C. Winter Games, and teamwork in Kamloops

Most Read