A boil water order has now been lifted for Crofton. (Citizen file)

A boil water order has now been lifted for Crofton. (Citizen file)

Thirsk Dam stops spilling

Community now using water from reservoirs for remainder of growing season

Thirsk Dam stopped spilling near the end of June and the municipality is now using water from its reservoirs for the remainder of the growing season.

The dam stopped spilling on June 29.

Each spring, as melting snow fills the municipality’s reservoirs, water overflows. When the overflow stops and the dams stop spilling, the community uses the water in the reservoirs for its irrigation and domestic needs.

This year, the Thirsk Lake reservoir stopped spilling more than one month earlier than a year ago. In 2016, the reservoir stopped spilling on Aug. 6.

Over the past two decades, the municipality’s reservoirs have normally stopped spilling around the beginning of July, although there is considerable fluctuation from one year to the next.

In 2015, the reservoir stopped spilling on June 17, the earliest date in at least 30 years.

However, in 1997, 1993 and 1991, the reservoir continued to spill throughout the year.

And in the 1970s and 1980s, there were many years when the reservoirs were still spilling in August.

Denise MacDonald, a Summerland fruit grower and a member of the Summerland Earth Week committee, said managing water will become a challenge in future years.

“Early in the year, snow pack was low with the province anticipating drought conditions in the Okanagan,” she said. “Sudden snowfall, rainfall, heat and runoff reversed that scenario in short order to call for flooding emergencies instead.”

In recent weeks, conditions have changed once more and the province is facing hot, dry weather.

“It’s kind of bizarre, but it’s consistent with the weather now,” MacDonald said.

Earlier this year, the Summerland Earth Week committee held a contest to guess when Thirsk Dam would stop spilling. John Gordon of Summerland was the winner of the contest this year.

Summerland Review