City council adopted a new watering policy at their regular meeting Monday, June 21.
The new policy updates outdoor watering schedules last updated in September 2010, according to a staff report. That policy was designed to limit outdoor watering across four progressive stages, but only specified restrictions at Stage 1.
The new measures cover all four stages, regulating outdoor water use by the city and the general public from now until the fall, when council will consider a permanent watering bylaw. The city is currently at Stage 1 restrictions, which allow for manual or automated sprinkling in the early mornings or late evenings on alternating days between homes with odd/even-numbered addresses.
At Stages 2 and 3, outdoor watering drops to two and then one day per week, again on an alternating schedule. At Stage 4, outdoor watering drops to nil apart from firefighting, cleaning outdoor spaces where required by law and sponging dirt off car windshields and license plates.
Vegetable and flower gardens and freshly planted lawns can be hand-watered at any time outside of Stage 4 restrictions.
With Environment Canada predicting temperatures in the high 30s starting Friday, June 25, staff said the city is likely to enter Stage 2 restrictions in the coming weeks. Grand Forks last saw Stage 3 restrictions in the summer of 2017, staff told The Gazette.
Council discussed potential water conservation strategies following their unanimous vote in favor of the new policy. Speaking to staff’s comments that the Kettle River is running a much lesser streamflow over last year, Coun. Chris Moslin said, “I do worry that the river’s actually starting to run quite dry and that will affect agriculture throughout the region.”
A regional water retention plan would have to include damming the Kettle at some point, he added.
Mayor Brian Taylor then said council could revisit the dam proposal it rejected in February.
“My concern is what are we going to do 50 years from now … I think we need to take a much deeper look at this issue,” he said.
The Kettle River basin is currently at a Stage 2 or “moderate” drought level, according to B.C’s Drought Information Portal. The Kettle is now ranked at the highest drought level in B.C., along with the Salmon River and East Vancouver Island basins.