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13th August 2015
EDITOR
Sunshine Coast bans all watering, moves to Stage 4 restrictions

Regional district announces severe water restrictions south of Pender Harbour, effective Thursday, Aug. 13

CBC News Posted: Aug 11, 2015

The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) has declared Stage 4 water restrictions, the most severe level of restriction, banning all commercial use of water and residential outdoor tap use effective Thursday, Aug. 13.
Mayor of Sechelt, Bruce Milne, acknowledges the restrictions will be a hardship for some homes and businesses.

"Backyard gardening is not allowed," said Milne in a phone interview. "And commercial activities whether it's on construction sites they use water a lot for dust control or whether it's commercial car washes, even the nurseries like Canadian Tire or London Drugs...they can't be using water."

Wayne Row, Mayor of Gibsons, which also falls in the SCRD, says invoking harsh restrictions now is the only way to ensure people will have water in the fall.

"I think everybody appreciates that the important thing is to make sure that we have domestic water," said Row. "The Stage 4 restrictions [will] ensure that we have sufficient water to provide to people's homes well into October."

Row added the level in the Chapman Lake reservoir which feeds Gibsons has dropped to a trigger point. The last time it reached the same level was in October 2012. The lake has never been so low this early in the year.

'Remarkable' water conservation efforts
The ban covers customers south of Pender Harbour, as those living on the north end of the region remain at Stage 1 restrictions. Commercial food growers with farm status and water meters are exempt from the ban.

It's believed the Sunshine Coast Regional District is the first in B.C. to enact such a Stage 4 ban. (CBC)

It's believed the Sunshine Coast Regional District is the first in B.C. to enact such a Stage 4 ban. Other regions such as the Nanaimo Regional District have enacted Stage 4 restrictions, but they have different criteria, and still allow hand watering.

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Nanaimo, Parksville move to Stage 4 water restrictions
Residents should use "clean grey water" water from a bathtub or sink to water outdoor plants and vegetables, said a district news release.

The district decided to enact the ban despite water conservation efforts it described as "remarkable."

"Water use has decreased by approximately 40 per cent since going to Stage 3," said SCRD general manager Bryan Sjohi.

"Unfortunately, this unprecedented hot and dry weather has resulted in drier conditions within the watershed."

What is banned?
Under Stage 4 restrictions on the Sunshine Coast, virtually all outdoor watering is banned.

No using tap water through garden hoses, irrigation systems, sprinklers or even watering cans.
No filling any pools, hot tubs or fountains.
No washing driveways, sidewalks, vehicles, boats or other equipment.
No using power washers.
What is allowed?
Commercial food growers with farm status and water meters can water their crops.
Homeowners can water outdoor plants, vegetables with bath or sink "grey water."
How long will it last?
There is no end date to the water ban, as the SCRD expects the hot, dry weather to continue into the fall.

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/sunshine-coast-bans-all-watering-moves-to-stage-4-restrictions-1.3186965

Sunshine Coast watering restrictions may threaten food security, says farmer

Exemptions granted only to designated farms with meters, not backyard growers
By All Points West, CBC News Posted: Aug 12, 2015 6:00 AM PT

Local farmers on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast are worried the district's heightened, Stage 4 watering restrictions will threaten regional food security.

The Sunshine Coast Regional District, or SCRD, has declared the strictest possible water restrictions, banning nearly all commercial use of water and residential outdoor tap use effective Thursday, Aug. 13.

Under these restrictions, many local vegetable gardeners will not be allowed to water their crops with fresh water.

Backyard growers hung out to dry?
Roberts Creek farmer Annette Clarke led a delegation of about 50 concerned residents to the SCRD board of directors at the end of July, asking that all local food production be exempt from watering restrictions.

But the board only granted an exemption for officially designated farms equipped with water meters.

While backyard growers will be able to use grey water, Clarke said this won't be much help to residents with larger gardens.

"Food prices went up quite a bit already and will go up. Some people might not be able to afford food anymore, especially healthy, local food won't be available if you're not allowed to grow your own," she said.

District denies impact on food security
But Bruce Milne, Mayor of Sechelt and one of the board's directors, said these restrictions will not have a significant effect on food security.

"We know lots of people have backyard gardens. I have one myself. The fact is that I don't rely on my backyard garden for subsistence food."

He said the district's top priorities at this stage are human health and drinking water, firefighting capabilities and environmental habitat.

Clarke said the regional district needs to reconsider how it structures watering restrictions.

"The downfall, really, is that all outdoor use for water is classified as non-essential. Every indoor water use is classified as essential.

"Theoretically, you could use water indoors [as much as] you like. There's no restriction on that. Outdoor water is totally forbidden. I think that has to change."

She added that farming should not be grouped in with car washes and golf courses, since food security should be a higher priority.

There is no end date to the water ban, as the district expects the hot, dry weather to continue into the fall.


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To hear the full interview with Annette Clarke, listen to the audio labelled: Sunshine Coast watering restrictions threaten food security, says farmer.

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/sunshine-coast-watering-restrictions-may-threaten-food-security-says-farmer-1.3187537