Nelson's reservoir at Mountain Station is fed by Five Mile Creek.

Nelson water use below average in January

Nelson will build lakeside water treatment plant this year.

Nelson residents, businesses and institutions used less water than average in December and January and a plan to build a water treatment plant on the lakeshore this year is on track.

In December, water usage was 4.3 megalitres (the six-year average is 5.1) and in January, 4.4 ML (the average is 4.9 ML).

A megalitre is one million litres. An Olympic-sized swimming pool has a capacity of 2.5 ML.

Public works director Colin Innes said the city did not measure the creek flow into the reservoir in those two months because it appeared to be exceeding the averages of 25.2 ML for December and 17.7 ML for January.

A summary of creek flows and water usage from July to January over the past eight years appears in the chart below. The trend through the summer and fall of 2015 saw severely reduced creek flow that can be attributed to drought conditions last summer. This was accompanied by modestly lower water use by residents. Innes says the reduced use can be attributed to increased water conservation by citizens and repairs to water pipes which have decreased leakage.

Nelson gets its water from Five Mile Creek and secondarily from two other creeks that originate in West Arm Park. None are glacier-fed and all depend, month by month, on precipitation levels. This past spring and summer, low precipitation and high temperatures resulted in a low supply of water and heavy use by residents until water restrictions were imposed in the summer and continued until December.

Innes said the plan to build a water treatment plant this year on the lakeshore is proceeding, and an operating budget will be presented for approval to city council soon. The proposed facility would provide treated water to some of the lower parts of Nelson during periods of water shortage.

Innes said if this summer shapes up to be anything like 2015, the city will implement water restrictions sooner.

Meanwhile in the mountains the West Kootenay snowpack is 101 per cent of normal, according to David Campbell of the province’s River Forecast Centre. He expects a modest increase when the next measurements are made this week.

“But the current warm weather could easily result in snowpack melting earlier than usual,” he told the Star. “Rivers in the area are running somewhat higher than normal, partially caused by this year’s El Nino.”

Campbell says El Nino “tends to be more noticeable in late winter and early spring, and that is what we are seeing.”

He added that in the Kootenays, temperatures were one to two degrees above normal in January, and three to five degrees above normal in February, and that warmer weather is expected to continue throughout the spring.

 

Creek flow 2015-16

Average creek flow 1993-2014

City use 2015-16

Average city use 2008-2014

July

13.6*

139.1

7.9

7.8

August

7.2

34.6

6.8

7.7

September

6.2

25.9

5.1

6.2

October

7.3

31.9

4.7

5.5

November

7.1

42.3

4.4

5.1

December

Not measured

25.1

4.3

5.1

January

Not measured

17.7

4.4

4.9

*All values are in megalitres.

Previous stories in the Nelson Star about Nelson’s water supply:

Water: does Nelson have enough? (July 2015)

Nelson water shortage worse now than in summer (September 2015)

Nelson water shortage persists (October 2015)

Nelson to build emergency lakeside water treatment plant (November 2015)

 

 

 

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