The municipality is allowing residents of King Edward Bay and Bluewater to hand-water flower and vegetable gardens, though with strict constraints, for a trial period.
The two west side neighbourhoods have been under stage 4 water restrictions (no watering lawns or plants, no filling pools or hot tubs, no power washing, no hoses or sprinkling) for more than a month. The restrictions have been a source of distress for gardeners contending with a warm, dry season and parched gardens.
The modifications to the stage 4 restrictions are as follows:
- "Hand watering" is watering plants, trees, flower and vegetable gardens with a hand-held watering can.
- Odd numbered houses can hand water gardens on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- Even numbered houses can hand water gardens on Wednesdays and Fridays.
- Hand watering is not permitted on weekends; if watering must be done on the weekend, purchase rain barrels to fill on the permitted day and store until the weekend.
BIM’s hand-watering tips include:
- Purchase rain barrels and use any collected rainwater first.
- Water only what needs it.
- Water early in the morning or in the evening to prevent evaporation.
Still prohibited in the two neighbourhoods is watering lawns, using garden hoses or irrigation systems, filling pools or hot tubs or fountains, washing vehicles or sidewalks, and using power washers.
The municipality said in a newsletter that if the reservoirs deplete significantly without sign of recovery, the modifications will be rescinded. However, BIM’s chief administrative officer, Kathy Lalonde, said that should the full stage 4 restrictions be reimplemented, the fire chief has agreed to provide a tanker truck in the neighbourhoods from which people could fill buckets to water their gardens.
The stage 4 water restriction modification is the latest development in ongoing water issues in Bluewater and King Edward Bay.
This past spring, the Bluewater wells stopped producing as much water as they should be producing and so the King Edward Bay water system has been supplementing its neighbouring system since around the beginning of May.
The municipality hired Urban Systems to investigate and remedy the Bluewater water shortage and the contractor suggested two possible reasons for the low water production: depleted sources or fouled well equipment. Lalonde said that the contractor will be providing an interim report on the issue and possible steps forward at the July 22 council meeting. She said that the intention is to then hold a community meetings in early-to-mid-August to update residents of the two neighbourhoods.
The municipality said in a newsletter that the King Edward Bay reservoir is 90 per cent full (its peak is 94 per cent) and the Bluewater reservoir has an apparently stable one-foot depth, but the Bluewater wells are still not producing what they should be.
The rest of Bowen is under stage 1 water restrictions, which means surface and power washing are allowed, car and boat washing are allowed with a spring-loaded shut-off nozzle and flower and vegetable gardens may be watered. Lawn watering is restricted to three days per week.