Our Little Drought and Water Restrictions

Metro Vancouver recently moved into stage 3 water restrictions. That means that even though it rained a little this weekend, you are not allowed to water your lawn or wash your car.

If you have a garden or trees in your yard you are allowed to continue to water them by hand. Just don’t put a sprinkler on them.

Our little drought may actually be much more serious than many realize. Nevermind the lack of rain, the fact is that due to climate change, or whatever you want to call it, we are seeing less and less snow on the North Shore Mountains.

It may rain significantly during the spring, fall and winter, however, the fact is that the water reservoir can only contain a limited amount of water that falls from rain.

The secondary source of water that feeds our water reservoirs comes from the snowpack that accumulates during the winter. As the snowpack melts during the spring and summer months feeds into the water reservoirs, supplying us in the city with water all summer long.

The water contained in the reservoir is the primary source of water for the city, but more importantly, the snowpack that usually accumulates in the North Shore mountains over the winter months is the secondary source that continues to feed the reservoir during the long and dry summer months.

Part of the reason we are in a drought-like situation now is that no snowpack accumulated over this past winter in the North Shore Mountains. Further, we cannot assume that there will be a snow back again this winter. It’s probable that there will be a snow pack but based on what happened (or didn’t happen) last winter, a snowpack is not guaranteed.

And then, if there is no snowpack that accumulates this coming winter, these drought-like conditions that we are currently in might start to look like child’s play.

This may require a fundamental shift in the way we live our lives here on the West Coast; no more hosing off driveways and letting sprinklers run for hours on sidewalks and streets. No more lush green lawns. We are used to it being wet and rainy and having unlimited supplies of water. It may be time to change our attitudes around water.