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HomeNewsTown of Peace River considers water restrictions following unseasonably dry winter

Town of Peace River considers water restrictions following unseasonably dry winter

The Peace River water level is reportedly the lowest it has been in twenty years thanks to an unseasonably dry winter, which has led to the consideration of a potential water conservation plan among municipal officials.

Much of the province has been subject to warm, dry conditions over the winter and Peace River Mayor Elaine Manzer says her region has been no different. The Mayor says very little snow in much of the Peace River watershed has led to “concerning” water levels and ultimately, the consideration of a potential water conservation plan this spring.

“Very little snowfall, and really, very little rain for the most part, we’ve hardly had any moisture, so all of that contributes to the thought that- okay we’re going to start monitoring our water system a bit more,” she says.

The current plan would see the potential implementation of the town’s water conservation bylaw; however, Manzer says the bylaw would not be implemented before educating the public regarding what exactly the rules and regulations would be in this scenario.

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“Council and administration are basically planning an education program for the community so everyone is more aware of our water conservation bylaw,” she says.

The Mayor adds that Peace River must address a potential water shortage as soon as possible as the town supplies water to two municipalities in the north- the County of Northern Lights, and the MD of Peace.

“Our town also supplies water through two water pipelines on the west side,” she says. “So all of those water needs make us look and say- well maybe we’re going to have to do things a little bit differently this Spring and leading into the Summer if we don’t get more moisture in the Spring.”

“We have to be aware of those things and take some responsibility to do what we can.”

According to the town’s 2008 Water Conservation Bylaw, if Peace River’s three water reservoirs dip below 75 per cent capacity, water restrictions must be implemented such as lawn watering and household landscaping; however, Mayor Manzer says if capacity drops below 55 per cent capacity, restrictions could be placed upon city amenities such as the town’s spray park.

“Those would all be looked at as to whether or not we need to restrict the water usage there in terms of what we need the water for, becoming a needs rather than wants sort of thing,” she says.

With Peace River serving as an evacuee registration centre during the Northwest Territories evacuation last summer, Mayor Manzer says further strain could be placed upon the town’s water supply should a similar situation arise this year.

“Some of them actually stayed in town so there’s more needs on the system for people that are not necessarily here on a daily basis, so things like that have caused an adjustment on some of our water needs.”

“If it’s like last year, we had hotels that had many firefighters from all over the world staying in hotels, so that increases what’s needed for that emergency service type of thing,” she says. “We would have an increased need on that side of things while at the same time trying to manage the system, so serving the emergency people as well as your own property owners, and that is a concern.”

Should water levels continue to fall, plans are in place to mitigate the effect a potential water shortage could have during the anticipated 2024 wildfire season.

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