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City of Nanaimo and regional district monitoring water supply

Despite recent precipitation, the City of Nanaimo and Regional District of Nanaimo are still expressing concern about the possibility of low water supply in the summer.

Regional district water services manager Mike Donnelly and City of Nanaimo manager of water resources Bill Sims were among water officials taking part in a meeting earlier this month to discuss the effect of the drier-than-usual winter. Donnelly said groundwater sources were slow to recover in the fall and reservoirs aren’t being replenished as they normally would.

Donnelly said that the current snowpack is about 28 per cent of normal (the average between 1981 and 2010). He said it was at seven per cent two weeks ago.

“Certainly, if we hadn’t seen that switch that came by that started about 10 days ago with increased precipitation and snow, it would be adding concern,” said Donnelly.

“We’ve got somewhat of a reprieve there but we’re still watching it because we actually need quite a bit of snowpack to help us through into the summer and quite a bit of precipitation to fill our reservoirs to the level we need them to be at.”

He said water managers will begin preaching water conservation earlier this year because of the current situation, although that is the extent of measures for the time being.

“We haven’t gone past [earlier water conservation messaging] because we don’t see a need to at this stage,” Donnelly said. “Of course if we really missed out on precipitation and snowfall then we’d be looking at things like the regular tools we would use around sprinkling regulations for example, that sort of thing, as a start.”

Sims said the city is concerned but is not panicking yet and it’s too early to say what the implications are for the summer.

“We are getting precipitation and so we are able to store water so it’s not like there’s not water going into the lakes. So what we’re doing essentially as the city is we’re managing by just being a little more careful with our normal storing procedures,” said Sims.

He said the city’s target is to essentially have the lakes from which it draws water full by the end of June.

It is on pace to hit that target at this point.

Besides the city and regional district, managers from the District of Lantzville, City of Parksville, Town of Qualicum Beach and representatives from French Creek water service supplier Epcor Utilities Ltd. attended the meeting.

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