The Okanagan is one of Canada’s most water-stressed regions, and outdoor watering restrictions have become a way of life throughout the valley.
But this year, following the driest spring on record and a record-breaking heatwave, water restrictions will become even more important.
According to Penticton’s water quality and conservation ambassador, residents there can now only water two days a week, and only during designated times.
“Today, the City of Penticton decided to progress to Stage 2 outdoor watering restrictions. which is in accordance to neighbouring municipalities in the Okanagan,” Emma Cameron told Global News.
Cameron said the restrictions are based on addresses, with odd-number street addresses permitted to water on Tuesdays and Saturdays, while even-numbered street addresses are permitted to water Wednesdays and Sundays.
In Kelowna, the city is making plans to impose new water restrictions shortly.
“Right now, we are preparing to enter Stage 1 restrictions. We are preparing that for next week,” said water operations manager Andy Weremy.
The Regional District of North Okanagan is also expecting to move the Greater Vernon area to Stage 1 soon, where, like in Kelowna, residents are only allowed to water three days a week.
“And not at all on Mondays,” added Weremy. “There is no outdoor watering on Mondays. Really, that helps us protect our system.”
Kelowna is hoping to reduce outdoor water usage by 10 per cent, but Kelowna residents consume a lot of water.
Weremy says on a typical summer day, Kelowna might pump out between 80 to 90 million litres of water from Okanagan Lake.
But on July 2, city residents used 107 million litres, which Weremy says highlights the need for more water conservation.
“We need to make sure the water is available — drinking water, sanitation, emergency response and firefighting,” he said.
Given the Okanagan’s dry climate, watering restrictions are here to stay, as they’re an important part of water conservation throughout the valley.
“That’s what we have to get used to; we are talking about changing attitudes and behaviours towards water use,” Weremy said.
“So that we not only have it for today, but we have it for tomorrow and for future generations.”