Letter: Insist on science before further restrictions

it is my hope that council will insist on credible science in making a decision regarding water restrictions, writes Gord Nichols.

Re: Staff recommendation to implement stage 2 water restrictions. Points raised:

• One per cent snow pack

• Osoyoos is doing it

• Climate change

• California drought

• Precaution against shortage of water for fire protection

• Stage 2 watering with hand watering supplements is adequate for home gardens

The only recording snow station in the drainage is Grano Creek. The snow pack was 450 mm of water equivalent versus 600 mm average in mid-April or about 75 per cent. The snowmelt was early and was complete by the end of May.

The relationship between mountain snowpack and the Grand Forks aquifer water table is indirect.  The aquifer has not experienced any downward trend in recorded levels.

An accurate reporting of ground water level in comparison to historic averages, maximums and minimums would be a more credible justification of the need for further restrictions than a one per cent statistic.

Due diligence would mandate that staff and council be informed of the current data. How much water is in the wells is as important as the balance in the city’s bank accounts.

The Osoyoos reason is just keeping up with the Jones’s. There are many other pipes into our aquifer including some large purveyors of irrigation and domestic water. I was dismayed but not surprised when the mayor dismissed a discussion of the other users as being beyond the control of city council.

Climate change is real and has been going on forever. As long as the aquifer hydrograph achieves historic maximum levels during the annual recharge phase, there is no reason to take any action solely in the name of climate change.  In other words, the water table is dependent on the shorter term weather pattern rather than longer term climate. When the bowl is full there is no action that will aid in keeping the bowl fuller.

California is in drought, which is a fact. Cutting back on our garden watering will not make any difference to their plight.

Providing that we do not pump the wells dry, the availability of water for fire protection is dependent on the infrastructure including pumping capacity, reservoir storage and piping. Well logs will give ample warning if over pumping is having an abnormal effect on the water table.

My experience in farming and irrigation dates back to the 1950s, in the Okanagan where my father was a vegetable and flower seed grower.  The soil was a silty loam with a relatively high field capacity.

We have had flower and vegetable gardens in Grand Forks for the past 35 years. In contrast to our Okanagan soils, our Grand Forks soil is a sandy loam with very low field capacity.

In warm dry conditions, two days is the maximum interval before permanent wilt. Hand watering is not a practical alternative.

In summary it is my hope that city council will insist on credible science in making a decision regarding imposition of stage 2 water restrictions and will provide the public with their rationale.

– Gord Nichols, Grand Forks

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