Dry spell prompts Stage 1 water measures in Tuff

A dry weather forecast forced Tofino residents into Stage 1 water restrictions last week.

June has traditionally brought Tofino about 128 mm worth of rain but so far only about 5 mm have dropped down, according to Tofino’s manager of public works Bob Schantz.

Tofino’s water conservation bylaw stipulates the restrictions kick in if two weeks go by without rain between May 15 and Oct. 15.

“Despite a small rainfall this past weekend, and the fact that the reservoirs are continuing to replenish themselves, we have a dry forecast for the summer and our manager of public works (Bob Schantz) has determined that Stage 1 restrictions should come into play,” said Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne during last week’s regular council meeting.

With Stage 1, homes with even numbered addresses may only water their lawns and gardens on Tuesdays and Fridays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Homes with odd numbered addresses are only permitted to do their watering between 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays.

Unattended watering is not permitted at any time during the restrictions.

The restrictions took effect on Tuesday, June 17, and the district issued an announcement promising to issue infraction tickets to anyone found in non-compliance.

On an ironically rainy Wednesday afternoon, Osborne told the Westerly the decision to lift the restrictions is in Schantz’s hands but she doubted the day’s rainfall would have an impact.

“My gut tells me we’ll just stay with the way it is because the forecast is so dry, but it is Bob’s call,” she said.

“This is an awareness building stage,” she said. “I think creating an awareness of water conservation even in mid-June is very important.”

On Friday, Schantz confirmed the Stage 1 restrictions would remain in effect indefinitely.

“The average rainfall for June is 128 mm (and) up until Wednesday we’d had 5 mm,” he said adding Wednesday’s showers didn’t come close to pushing the needle to the norm.

Schantz had never put the district’s Stage 1 restrictions in effect before and said this is the driest stretch of spring he has seen in four years of district service.

“May was below average rainfall also and then June is extremely

below average rainfall,” he said.

“The reservoirs aren’t flowing like they should be for this time of the year. It has been a very dry spring so we just want to be proactive.”

“We’re going to monitor it to see because we don’t know what the weather holds…If it was to rain for a week I’d probably be thinking about lifting it but we have to see how it goes,” he said.

Stage 2 water restrictions kick in when the Close Creek reservoir stops filling to capacity but Schantz said this concern remains far from the horizon.

reporter@westerlynews.ca