A popular winter resort on Vancouver Island is getting ready to welcome visitors on opening day Friday.
However, while there is enough snow on the ground for a limited alpine opening at Mount Washington, resort staff say they are grappling with record-low running water for guests and businesses.
They are concerned about potential water shortages as the springs that produce the mountain’s potable water supply are at an all-time low. They also want anyone visiting to help conserve the current water supply.
“With Vancouver Island experiencing the worst drought levels in over 15 years, the Puntledge River flow and the Comox Lake Reservoir level have also never been as low as they are now,” the resort said in a statement on its website.
BC Hydro said this week that the Campbell River reservoir storage is the lowest on record since 1984. In addition, the snowpack in the upper watershed is less than 25 per cent of what is considered normal for this time of year.
Mount Washington is at the top of the watershed.
“The atmospheric rivers did arrive for the South Coast and Vancouver Island and they weren’t the strongest and there wasn’t really that many,” Jonathan Boyd, a hydrologist with the River Forecast Centre told Global News Thursday. “It was maybe two weeks in late October, early November, where we did have pretty significant rainfall. But since then it’s been fairly dry.”
He said he does not see a significant amount of rainfall in the forecast for the island.
In an effort to conserve water, Mount Washington is asking people to bring a supply of bottled water with them and to reduce water usage while visiting.
This includes using porta potties, which will be placed outside, to reduce indoor toilet use, and using hand sanitizing stations around the resort to reduce the need for additional hand washing.
In addition, businesses will be reducing water wherever possible, including using disposable plates and cutlery to reduce dishwasher use and asking staff to bring water from home.
The resort is providing these tips to residents and guests in order to help conserve water.
- Take shorter showers, avoid baths, and don’t run taps while brushing your teeth or washing dishes.
- Only run your dishwasher when you have a full load. Dishwashers use large volumes of water, about 60 litres of water per load. If washing dishes by hand, do not wash or rinse with running water. Use tubs or plug the sink.
- Bring a water supply with you and refrain from drinking tap water.
- Only run washing machines with full loads or on eco mode. Washing machines use anywhere between 100-200 litres of water per load. Better yet, if you are able to do your laundry elsewhere off-mountain.
- Reduce the number of times you flush your toilet with multiple uses before flushing. Unnecessary flushing of the toilet even once a day can waste up to 1,000 litres of water per year (please repair/shut off any toilets that have constant running water)
- Inform any visitors you may have arriving to do the same and conserve water usage however possible throughout their stay.
- Recycle unused water. While waiting for hot water to flow when preparing for a shower, catch the cool water in a bucket. This water can be used later for plants, pets or cleaning. Refrain from filling or topping up hot tubs or pools. If these are required for your rentals please have them filled from providers from town (eg. H2O to go or Lyster Ventures).
- Report anything that could be identified as a potential water leak in the village
The resort said it is looking into housing a backup water supply for emergency needs and testing a potential alternative potable water source.
It also said there is still the potential for a boil water advisory to be put in place if water levels get lower.