- The Westshore
- Cold snap causing water woes on the Westshore
Cold snap causing water woes on the Westshore
Water leaks and water restrictions in Port Renfrew part of new shifts in regional weather patterns
Freezing pipes in the winter. Photo: Stock Image
A recent influx of arctic flow and katabatic winds across Vancouver Island has been wreaking havoc on the Westshore. High winds, snow and ice—and resulting incidents of frozen and leaking plumbing—have caused residents some serious headaches. Last Friday, the Prestige Oceanfront Resort in Sooke had to evacuate the premises at 3:30 in the morning, after a leak caused water to pour into the lobby through its ceiling.
Low water pressure in Port Renfrew is just another of the impacts of this particular hit of wintry weather.
The CRD issued an alert to residents that the Port Renfrew Water System is experiencing extremely low water pressure. Water operators are actively searching for where potential leaks may be coming from in the system so they can isolate and stop them. But because the water system distribution also contains hydrants, standpipes and multiple service lines to properties, isolating leaks is a challenge.
To help water operators do this, the CRD is asking that people in Port Renfrew conserve water and avoid all non-essential water use like doing laundry and washing up the dishes, which may come as a welcome, if not inconvenient break to some.
Unlike other communities that have other back-up options, the Port Renfrew Water System comes from a single groundwater source, Well PW#3, that pumps to a water treatment facility east of the township. Such dependence on one source makes working together key to getting water pressure back on track.
In the meantime, the CRD is asking that residents continue to take a few precautions, including having bottled water on hand for drinking and personal use, and creating a back-up water supply at home by filling a bathtub or large containers. “Avoiding using big appliances like dishwashers and washing machines,” said Jason Dales, senior manager of wastewater infrastructure, “will help water crews continue to do their jobs.”
Dales said he thinks water crews have located the leak around Beach Camp and that the CRD has dispatched additional staff to the area. And while they may have things isolated and resolved soon, he is still encouraging folks to keep an eye on their pipes and to restrict water use wherever possible until things completely thaw out. Jarod Highes of Rather Be Plumbing said that when taps are frozen, “residents can thaw them by turning them on to what would be a dribble and using a hair dryer on the tap on a low to medium setting to melt the ice.” And there are a few other resources, including the Colwood Community Association Facebook page, that have some tips about how to locate leaks and winterize pipes.
Freezing pipes may be an ongoing and consistent concern for people along the Westshore in the years to come as climate change impacts weather patterns everywhere. According to climate scientists and Environment Canada, BC’s atmosphere and ocean climate have been changing faster than the global average. From 1900 to 2013, the average winter air temperature in the province increased by 2.2°C–as opposed to the global average of 1.9º put out by NASA–meaning that winter blasts of frigid air may become more persistent over time: They predict more “draw-down” of the phenomenon of “polar vortex” and arctic flow across the region in the future, which residents had a taste of this past week. The implication of a future with inevitable cold snaps is that homeowners in the Westshore may need to consider better-insulated walls, windows and doors, as well as knowing that winterizing pipes may become a yearly must do.
Developers take note.
To further assist water crews with potential ongoing leak detection, the CRD is asking that you contact their emergency line at 1.855.822.4426 if you detect any water flowing from your property. They are also asking that you sign up for the Public Alert Notification System, if you haven’t already, to receive emergency notifications when advisories are issued or lifted. Updates are also available at www.crd.bc.ca/alerts.