As of midnight Thursday June 24 Princeton residents can only water lawns and garden by hand. Photo MCG

Strict water restrictions for Princeton activated to preserve resources for firefighting

Record temperatures push infrastructure to its limits, says mayor

Strict water use rules will be implemented in Princeton Thursday, June 24 at midnight, following an emergency meeting of town council Wednesday.

The move, accompanied by a complete fire ban in town limits, is to ensure there is enough water available for fire protection.

A staff report states: “Present water consumption is creating added stress on the source water supply pumping system. The reservoirs are unable to recover sufficiently to maintain fire- fighting minimum standards. To reduce the risk of a pump failure in one of the three wells it is necessary to reduce the duration of the pump operations.”

Until further notice, under Stage 3 water restrictions, all watering of lawns, flower gardens, vegetable gardens, planters, shrubs and trees is prohibited unless done by hand with hoses equipped with automatic shut-off devices or by a container. No one may use a hose to wash boats or motor vehicles, unless the hose is equipped with an automatic shut-off device, and the purpose of washing is to maintain visibility of lights or licence plates, or through windows, or is otherwise for the safe operation of the boat or motor vehicle.

No one may use water to fill or re-fill garden ponds, hot-tubs, or residential swimming pools or use a hose providing water for any other purpose unless it is for health or safety reasons and the hose is equipped with an automatic shut-off device.

Under bylaw, residents who flaunt the restrictions face a minimum fine of $250.

Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne told the Spotlight he was made aware Wednesday morning that pumps in two of Princeton’s three wells are shutting down periodically due to heavy water use. The pumps are equipped with automatic shut-off devices, activated when the machinery becomes too hot.

Hot is the problem, said Coyne.

Temperatures in Princeton exceeded historic levels over the last two weeks, and between Friday June 25 and Wednesday June 30 are expected to range between 33 and 41 degrees Celsius.

“We are pretty sure that’s the reason everybody’s watering and it’s only going to get hotter,” said Coyne.

Related: Dangerous heat wave warning issued for B.C. Interior

“If both (wells) failed we would be down to one well and that would be an issue because we would run out of water after the reservoirs have been emptied,” said Coyne.

In a worst case scenario the town could literally run out of water, he stressed.

A house fire on Monday June 21 near Highway 3 taxed a third bench reservoir, aggravating the situation, said Coyne.

“I’d like to ask the residents to please work with us on this.”

Related: Princeton proposes to take on $7M in debt to fix crumbling infrastructure

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