Cooler weather and higher-than-normal rainfall have the City of Nanaimo water supply in good shape heading into the summer, say officials.
Mike Squire, city manager of water resources, said snowpack at the city reservoir at Jump Creek is close to 100 centimetres above the norm at this time of year, which bodes well for the warmer months.
“We’re at 294 centimetres,” said Squire, “On average this time of year we have 133cm … This last month has been incredible, the amount of snowpack and precipitation we’ve had, especially in town too. April was a record for precipitation (279 millimetres at the south Nanaimo watershed) and very close in the watershed as well.”
The area isn’t expected to see any flooding with warmer temperatures, as rain later in the year is usually what puts the area at risk, said David Campbell, head of the B.C. River Forecast Centre.
“On the Island, the flood risk really is driven by fall-winter rain storm events,” said Campbell. “We’ve definitely [seen] what looks like an increasing snowpack due to delayed melt this year, we’re not worried about that really posing a flood risk to the Nanaimo River … the hydrology on the Island is quite different than the Interior and so we don’t get that same seasonal risk that we get in the Interior during snow-melt season.”
Campbell doesn’t foresee a sudden rise in temperature leading to flooding either.
“I guess what we get is the snow itself is just confined to such a high elevation on the Island, and just a smaller portion of most of the watershed, so that even when it’s melting snow as fast as we can … maybe you might get 50 millimetres a day of melting happening,” said Campbell. “But you compare that to the whole watershed getting dumped on by a big atmospheric river type event, where you might get 100 or 200mm of rain, it’s just not the the same volume of water.”
The city entered into Stage 2 watering restrictions May 1, which sees even-numbered addresses watering on even days and vice-versa, and based on current conditions Squire doesn’t see elevating to Stage 3 (voluntary further reductions) or Stage 4 (non-essential watering prohibition) any time soon.
“We look at the snowpack levels, we look at the reservoir levels at Jump Creek and based on those two, we actually have a graph that tries to forecast for us where we should be for water stage restrictions,” said Squire. “Right now, we’re looking really good … and we have the ability to raise our gates a couple of more feet to capture more water, which we’ll be doing in the next two weeks.”