At the Special Meeting of Council held on January 23, 2024, Council received an update regarding the status of water levels in the Kiskatinaw River. Council directed staff to move Dawson Creek into Stage 2 Water Conservation Measures effective February 5, 2024 until further notice.

How this affects you

According to the City of Dawson Creek Water Conservation Measures Bylaw, during Stage 2 Water Conservation Measures a person must not:

a)       water lawns, except for on specified days and times by specific addresses

b)      use a hose providing water to wash boats or motor vehicles, unless the hose is equipped with an automatic shut-off device

c)       haul bulk water for non-potable use

Hauling bulk water for non-potable use is the key area that will be affected during these winter months. This restriction does not in any way impact drinking water for rural residents or impact commercial hauling for drinking water.

How our water levels are being affected

Water levels in the Dawson Creek area are currently being affected in three different ways:

  1. Drought - The Province of British Columbia is experiencing a historic period of drought. The northeast of the province, including Dawson Creek, is at the highest and most severe level of drought.
  2. Freezing conditions - The Kiskatinaw River upstream from the City’s intake reservoir is likely frozen due to the recent cold spell. This has resulted in the river levels dropping, and the flow of the river could not keep up with the City’s current pumping rate. Pumps were switched off in order to monitor the levels and gain a better understanding of current pumping capacity.
  3. Industry demand - There has been an increased demand for potable water for industry over the past few months.

Infrastructure in our favour

The City has invested in a number of key infrastructure improvements over the years in order to build resilience against situations such as this.

  1. Bearhole Lake Weir: In 2009, a weir was installed to increase water levels in Bearhole Lake. The City is able to release this water to supplement flows for aquatic, environmental and human use. Over the years, the City has conducted several releases and staff are assessing this option.
  2. Reclaimed Water Facility: The City’s reclaimed water facility can provide non-potable water to industry. The reclaimed water facility has the capacity to produce approximately 4,000 cubic meters a day.
  3. South Dawson Reservoir: The South Dawson Reservoir was built with the intent to provide water in times of drought. The South Dawson Reservoir has a capacity of 1,000,000 cubic meters and is currently at 95%. This reservoir, on its own, can safely provide the community with over 100 days of water, drawing it down to about 40-50%.
  4. Additional raw water reservoirs: The City has additional raw water reservoirs that store an additional 50-60 days of water. The philosophy has always been that the reservoirs would enable the City to withstand periods of drought, with the belief that these droughts would end, and water sources would be replenished.

How you can help

Moving to Stage 2 Water Conservation shows that the community is taking this drought seriously and preparing in the ways needed. Implementing conservation measures ensures water reserves are utilized as effectively as possible.

While this is not an emergency situation, careful planning and consideration will be required as we move forward into the warmer months.

You can help by learning more about water conservation and making preparations for a dry summer season. Visit our Water and Environment website page to view tips and tricks for conserving water in our community.

Information provided by the City of Dawson Creek

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