Low snowpack concerning

Bill Sims, the city's manager of water resources, says it's too early to say if the lack of snowpack will lead to early water restrictions.

The lack of snowpack at Jump Creek is a concern for Bill Sims, the city’s manager of water resources, who says the city will have to mull what it means for summer and the commissioning of a new water treatment plant.

The most recent snow survey from the B.C. River Forecast Centre shows Vancouver Island snowpack is 15 per cent of normal, and Jump Creek measures no snow for the first time since 1966.

Tobi Gardner, River Forecast Centre hydrologist, attributes warm weather, some wet winter storms, followed by a mostly dry and mild February as conspiring to melt much of the lower and mid-elevation snow.

Without the snow this year, Sims said the city will have to adjust the way it stores water, but it’s too soon to say if it’ll lead to early watering restrictions for Nanaimo. Mitigation measures, like public messaging, will be discussed at an internal meeting this month.

The city will also be looking at allowances for its new water treatment plant, which is expected to go online this fall but requires a “fair bit” of water to be flushed through it to get systems running.

– with files from Tom Fletcher