July 22, 2015 9:18 pm
Updated: July 24, 2015 9:48 pm

Okanagan residents warned to conserve water during drought


PENTICTON — Penticton resident Ruth Flynn doesn’t mind sitting on a parched lawn if it means saving precious water.

“If everyone is out watering their lawn, the water will be all gone,” says Flynn.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS) hopes other residents have the same conscientiousness as Flynn.

Last week, the BC government issued a Level 3 drought warning for the Okanagan.

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READ MORE: Penticton residents asked to reduce water use by 30%

As a result, the RDOS is now strongly encouraging all of its residents to voluntarily cut their water use by a third to avoid any further extreme measures.

“The reality is that there is an issue out there and it isn’t getting better right now for the water systems,” says Roger Huston, the district’s public works manager. “So for the provincial government to come up with a 30% reduction, we’re all about that and we want to support it.”

The Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) wants all residents up and down the valley to be mindful of their water use.

OBWB executive director Anna Warwick Sears says Okanagan Lake may seem bountiful but could still face a water shortage.

“Unlike some lakes in the States or even our upper-elevation reservoirs, we can’t draw the lake down, we can only use the amount that comes around every year as rainfall,” says Sears.

Sears says the provincial government is reviewing whether the Okanagan should be bumped up to a Level 4 drought rating and this means, water conservation could be mandatory.

“They can bring out the regulatory hammer and we really don’t want that to happen in the Okanagan. We would rather that people be conservative, cut back on their water waste and use only what they need,” says Sears.

OBWB has these water conservation tips:

  • Water plants. Not pavement.
  • Put water on the nightshift. Water between dusk and dawn.
  • Don’t mow. Let it grow. Leave lawn 5-8 cm (2-3 inches) tall.
  • Leave grass clippings as mulch.
  • Top dress with compost; and
  • Change out some lawn for drought-tolerant turf and/or native and low-water variety plants.

For more water-saving tips, visiting Make Water Work.

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