Metro Vancouver reservoirs dip into record low levels

Regional district officials to wait to see if stage 2 water use rules work before tightening further

Red line for 2015 shows much steeper decline in Metro Vancouver reservoir levels this year than in the past.

New readings show Metro Vancouver’s water reservoirs have dropped well into record low levels for this time of year.

The regional district now has 75 per cent of its total drinking water capacity available, as of July 5.

“We’re into uncharted territory here,” said Darrell Mussatto, chair of Metro’s utilities committee.

“We are using our water more than we did obviously last year and more than we have in the past. We’re at early August levels in early July.”

Metro already moved to stage 2 water restrictions effective last Friday – that reduces lawn sprinkling from three days to just once a week and bans water uses like pressure washing.

Hot, dry weather throughout May and June had sharply increased water demand in the region.

Mussatto said it’s too early to say if Metro will order tougher water restrictions yet. He said more time is needed to see if the stage 2 restrictions do enough to reduce water consumption.

“If everyone responds well that will allow us to get into the fall.”

Further steps in Metro’s Water Shortage Response Plan would ban all lawn sprinkling at stage 3, and all watering of plants and most other outdoor uses of treated drinking water at stage 4.

Metro’s three small alpine lakes are full and will be used to replenish the main reservoirs from which water is actually drawn.

The regional district has also asked BC Hydro to allocate more water from Coquitlam Lake for drinking water than normal.

Last week, the provincial government called for voluntary water use reductions of 20 per cent or more by all municipal, agricultural and industrial users in the Lower Mainland as a result of drought conditions.