The rains of the July 24-26 weekend helped to replenish the Dickson Lake reservoir drawn on by Abbotsford and Mission residents. However, if hot dry weather continues and water use is excessive, Stage 4 water restrictions could be implemented.
Mission council was updated as to the state of the reservoir at its Tuesday meeting. A report to council says municipal engineer Tracy Kyle will have authority to implement the Stage 4 restrictions “should the Dickson Lake level drop to the Stage 4 trigger level.”
However, it is unlikely that going to Stage 4 will be necessary, Kyle told council. She and Brent Schmitt, City of Abbotsford water planning engineer, were on hand to answer questions about the water situation.
Schmitt said that water use since Stage 3 was implemented is actually quite good. Last weekend, there was usage of 81 to 85 megalitres per day, down from 106 megalitres per day before the Stage 3 restrictions were imposed July 3. He said the water system is also making use of well water where possible in order to keep the drawdown on Dickson Lake and Norrish Creek minimized.
Coun. Carol Hamilton asked what it would take to get to the point where Stage 4 would be necessary. Schmitt said it would only happen late in August or early in September, and only then if some other portion of the water system experienced a failure and there was more pressure on Dickson Lake.
Mission Mayor Randy Hawes said last Friday that the replenishment provided by the rain has helped and “there has been a pretty good refilling of the reservoirs.”
Stage 4 would likely mean that the outdoor water park adjacent to the Mission Leisure Centre would either be shut down or have its hours restricted. It is a popular cooling-off location for many Mission families on hot days.
In addition, commercial car washes in Mission would have to close, as they do not recirculate their water. Water haulers and residents using water fill stations to replenish their wells would be restricted to using the water for domestic purposes only.
Coun. Pam Alexis said it would be very unfortunate if the popular water park had to close or have hours restricted due to Stage 4. She asked that staff look into what it could cost to have a recirculating water system installed at the water park so it could always operate in the summer months, no matter what the state of the water supply.
Kyle said she and parks and recreation director Maureen Sinclair have already discussed the matter.
Hawes said the limits on water use this summer are a wake-up call to think about the long term. The Stage 3 restrictions mean there is a ban on lawn sprinkling and use of fountains that do not use recirculated water. Other restrictions have also been brought in.
He said there needs to be further study of Harrison Lake as a source of water for Mission, Abbotsford and Metro Vancouver. He noted the lake’s watershed is 9,000 square kilometres, and millions of people could be served with a lake drawdown of two centimetres.
Past studies have looked at Harrison Lake as a water source. Hawes said plans at that time suggested that water could be drawn from the lake at a point 350 feet below the surface near Echo Island, and there was an unlimited supply of cold, clear water from the large, deep lake.
The Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley areas are projected to grow by millions of people over the next 30 to 50 years, he said, and there are already water shortages at the hottest times of the year.
“It makes so much sense (to look at Harrison Lake),” he said.
Schmitt said there will be discussion of updating the regional water management plan in 2016.