The changes include implementing Stage 1 restrictions every year on May 1 and adjusting watering days and times during Stage 1 and Stage 3 restrictions.
Under the changes, Stage 1 watering days will be set to certain days of the week depending on whether a residence has an odd or even-numbered address. Watering days will be consistent between Stage 1 and Stage 2, though Stage 2 will have one less watering day per household each week.
Watering on Mondays is not permitted.
The morning watering times under Stage 1 restrictions have also been adjusted in an attempt to reduce water use during high consumption periods. For even-numbered addresses, watering will be allowed from 5–8 a.m. and from 7–10 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Watering for odd-numbered addresses is permitted on Wednesday, Fridays, and Sundays at the same times.
CVRD water services manager Mike Herschmiller said the changes are largely due to public feedback.
“We received a lot of feedback from residents who found the transition from Stage 1 to Stage 2 to be problematic, especially for those with automated watering systems,” he said.
Those with automated sprinklers can set their watering system at the beginning of the season and adjust the watering times as restrictions move from Stage 1 to Stage 2.
Herschmiller said watering restrictions are meant to strike a balance between the regional district’s goal of reducing water consumption in the Comox Valley in the summers and complying with its water licence.
“It’s a combination of respecting and conserving our shared resource, which is the lake, as well as adhering to our water licence with the province,” he said.
Another reason for water restrictions, according to Herschmiller, is the depletion of snowpack that occurs every spring.
“When that melt is bringing water into the lake, there’s a time when the hourglass flips and there’s more water leaving the lake than coming in,” he said. “That’s when we need to start being conscious about how we conserve water to make sure we have enough to last the whole summer.”
The Comox Valley’s per capita water consumption is slightly higher than the national average. The CVRD found that the Comox Valley saw about 475 litres of water used per person, per day in 2016. According to Stats Canada, the national average was about 466 litres, per person, per day in 2013.
But Herschmiller cautioned against using per capita stats.
“There’s a lot of scrubbing of the data to get a true per capita number,” he said. “We could take the number of residents on the system and divide it by the amount of water that we use, but that doesn’t take into account the commercial and industrial water usage.
“It’s obviously easier if the entire Valley is residentially water-metered, but we’re not, so it’s a hard number to get to.”
Communities affected by the new changes include the City of Courtenay, the Town of Comox, the Comox Valley water local service area and the Arden, Marsden/Camco, Sandwick, Greaves Crescent, and England Road water local service areas.
—With files from the CVRD