Rain helps refill Metro Vancouver reservoirs

Water use restrictions may soon be relaxed from stage 3 back to stage 2

Last weekend’s destructive storm that cut power to many homes also helped refill Metro Vancouver’s drinking water reservoirs.

The available water supply actually increased to 60 per cent of the reservoirs’ capacity as of Sept. 1 from 55 per cent the week before.

The jump puts the regional district back in its “normal” range of reservoir levels after running at record lows through July and August.

The five per cent increase, or about 14 billion litres, was the equivalent of 5,600 Olympic swimming pools of water falling into the reservoirs.

The storm dropped more than 100 millimetres of rain on parts of the North Shore and rain continued to fall after the Tuesday’s weekly measurement.

The wet weather sets the stage for a possible relaxation of Metro Vancouver water restrictions from stage 3 to stage 2 – allowing a resumption of once-a-week lawn sprinkling, refilling of pools and other activities that had been banned for several weeks.

“We’re not going to keep it at stage 3 unless we need to be there,” Metro Vancouver utilities committee chair Darrell Mussatto said. “We’re still asking people to conserve.”

He said Metro engineering staff are watching the water levels and a decision on whether to scale back to stage 2 could come later this week or early next week.

Mussatto credited Metro residents and businesses for following Metro restrictions and helping conserve the supply.

Stage 3 restrictions were imposed July 20 in an attempt to keep daily water use to no more than 1.2 billion litres per day after more lenient restrictions failed to slow a swift decline in the regional water supply. Engineers had forecast the stage 3 limits would retain enough water even if no rain fell until November.

One challenge from the deluge is that water turbidity or cloudiness was up significantly in the Capilano and Seymour watersheds from all the sediment stirred up by the rain.

Mussatto said Metro’s new $800-million water filtration plant there was able to deal with the increase.

He said water in the Coquitlam reservoir, which serves Surrey, Langley and the northeast sector, also had some turbidity but was well below acceptable limits.

Stage 3 restrictions succeeded in capping daily water usage within Metro Vancouver at no more than 1.2 billion litres per day since they were imposed July 20.

 

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