Why the ‘chicken ladder intake’ is causing water restrictions in Ladysmith, Stz’uminus

Residents in Ladysmith, the Diamond Improvement District and Stz’uminus First Nation are all moving to tighter water restrictions on Friday as the town performs scheduled maintenance on the Holland Lake chicken ladder intake.

“Dredging of the chicken ladder intake at Holland Lake is typically carried out in September prior to the return of the rainy season,” said Ladysmith’s city manager and CAO Guillermo Ferrero.

“To complete this important work, the Holland Lake system is shut down, leaving just enough water to maintain fish flow. Then, the Town’s water supply is temporarily draw from the Stocking Lake system.”

Stage 3 water restrictions begin on Sept. 8 and last at least seven days; The town anticipates finishing the required dredging work sometime during the week of Sept. 18.

“The work involves removing accumulated gravels and sediments that collect at the chicken ladder intake,” said the town’s director of infrastructure services Geoff Goodall.

“This is not work that is done annually, only when the accumulation builds, say every three or four years. The chicken ladder intake is the only intake that is utilized when the Town is drawing water from the Holland Lake system.”

The following Stage 3 water restrictions apply:

– Lawn watering is not permitted

– Hand watering of trees, shrubs and gardens using a hose with a spring-loaded nozzle, a bucket or watering can is allowed for a maximum of two hours a daily, between 7-9 a.m., or 7-9 p.m.

– Micro-drip irrigation can take place during any time for a maximum of four hours a day. This does not include soaker or weeper hoses.

– Filling swimming pools and hot tubs is not permitted. To avoid damage to pumps and machinery, you can top up hot tubs and pools to account for evaporation.

– There is also no washing of vehicles, houses, boats, driveways and sidewalks. The only exception is limited washing of driveways and houses as part of the preparation for applying paints or preservatives, or pouring concrete.

“Moving to Stage 3 watering restrictions allows us to ensure we can provide enough water from the Stocking Lake system to meet daily demands, while avoiding a potential draw-down from the Arbutus Reservoir,” Ferrero added.

“I would like to remind residents that saving water is the right thing to do at any time of year. As a community, we must make more of an effort to conserve water before we run into serious problems in the future.”

Despite Stage 2 water restrictions being in place in Ladysmith since early July, daily water consumption in town increased 37 per cent over the previous month.

The town communicated its concern in a notice put out in August that noted this as a ‘concern.’

Data compiled by the town shows 170,743 cubic metres of water use in July compared to 141,855 in 2016.

Mayor Aaron Stone said despite successful conservation efforts municipal water consumption remains high per capita in B.C. when compared to non-North American cities.

“For all the investments we’ll make in improving water supply over the next several decades, we need to continue to move toward that low consumption,” he said.

As of Aug. 24, Stocking Lake levels were at 78.9 per cent of full capacity. Last year at the same time the lake was at 73.2 per cent.

Holland Lake also remained at approximately 80 per cent in according the last update in early August.

“We normally draw from Holland Lake system during the late spring to early fall when the turbidity is low,” said Goodall. “When the turbidity increases as a result of the winter rains we switch to the Stocking Lake system, which utilizes a different intake directly off (the lake).”

Stone said he’s keen on seeing a rain barrell rebate the same way as there is a rebate on toilets.

“We’ve been under subscribed on the toilet rebate so let’s carve a little bit off of that budget amount next year and do something different that encourages conservation and saving of water,” he said.