Chairperson, Regional District of Nanaimo
Summer is the time to be water wise
Some of you may find it surprising, but outside the City of Nanaimo and Parksville most Regional District of Nanaimo residents rely on limited groundwater supplies for drinking and other uses. As groundwater can be a limited resource, particularly during dry summer months, conservation and following local outside watering regulations becomes a very important practice for protecting this resource.
The RDN operates 12 water service areas or utilities. These vary in size from small systems such as Pylades near Cedar, San Pareil outside of Parksville, and Surfside near Qualicum Beach, to larger utilities serving communities in Nanoose Bay and French Creek. So far this summer we've managed to avoid severe watering restrictions. On two of our systems that faced supply problems last year, we've managed to relax restrictions to allow hand watering of gardens, shrubs and flowerbeds at anytime while limiting watering of lawns to two days per week.
In some of our water service areas we have developed new water supplies to better meet the needs of our customers. In San Pareil, the well we drilled earlier this year is now on line and providing good flows of high quality drinking water. For the second summer, our Madrona system, is benefiting from our partnership in the Arrowsmith Water Service and the Arrowsmith dam. A connection with the City of Parksville water system enables Madrona to access surface water from the Englishman River during the summer months.
In other RDN water service areas, increasing the quantity of water available and improving quality from an aesthetic point remain short and long term objectives. Both our French Creek (Chartwell and Sandpiper) and several of our Nanoose Bay water service areas experience problems with low water pressure during peak demand times and with water quality due to the presence of iron and manganese. While iron and manganese levels are not a health concern, they are a nuisance because they affect the taste of the water and stain sinks, fixtures and clothing. To address the problems of water quantity and quality we plan to connect two existing wells in the Nanoose Bay area to the distribution system. In the French Creek system, we plan to construct new reservoirs and pump houses that will improve water pressure for households and fire protection.
The role of the RDN and its water service utilities is to supply adequate water for drinking and fire protection, with a limited supply for outside the home use such as gardens and lawns. During the summer 40% or more of the water we use is for lawns and landscaping, and many lawns may get twice the water they require. A healthy lawn requires no more than one inch of water per week. Watering more than that during dry or drought conditions can actually damage lawns. Please do your part by following local watering regulations. That will ensure everyone in your water system can access their share of this community resource. If you have questions or want information about water conservation and water wise gardening, check the RDN's Website at www.rdn.bc.ca or call our Environmental Services Department.