Steele: Coping with drought restrictions

Here's a look at how long term, drought-stricken areas like Australia cope.

Portulaca will open every sunny day until frost. Dwarf lavender flowers last until September overlapping with the deep pink blooms of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ that continue to frost.

The province has now declared the Okanagan to be at Level 4 drought, joining Vancouver Island and southwestern B.C. which have been at Level 4 most of the summer.

It’s time to look at how long term, drought-stricken areas like Australia cope with conditions that are appearing in B.C. with increased frequency and severity:

• Requirement for all new homes to capture all precipitation from their roof into a cistern to use for all outdoor irrigation on the property.

• Bylaw change to encourage collection and reuse of grey water from showers and laundry for garden irrigation.

As mentioned last week, Kelowna has introduced watering restrictions after many years without any.

Details can be found at   www.kelowna.ca/CM/page2506.aspx.

Last week, Lake Country and West Kelowna both upped their watering restrictions to Stage 2. The details are slightly different.

In West Kelowna, watering is reduced to two days a week while outdoor watering is prohibited between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. only for even numbered addresses water on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and odd numbered addresses water on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Hand watering of landscape plant materials and vegetable plantings, excluding lawns, is also permitted, with a watering can or a control nozzle on a hose. Using an open pipe or hose for irrigating purposes is not allowed.

For details of times of night/morning irrigating for automatic and manual sprinkling systems check   www.westkelownacity.ca/water.

Lake Country Stage 2 restrictions are stiffer and have a penalty.

Customers who consistently ignore restrictions will be subject to water service turn off and/or fines.

Watering with a watering can or hand watering with a triggered hose is allowed anytime.

The nozzle must be actively hand held by an individual.

Manual sprinklers can be run from 7 p.m. to midnight and 6 to 10 a.m., two hours less a day than the rest of the Central Okanagan.

Automatic systems can only be run between midnight and 6 a.m.

There is an added reminder to turn off your system during rainy periods. ‘Don’t set it and forget it’.

Watering is restricted to two days per week.

Days are determined by the last digit of the house address.

Go to www.okanaganway.ca/municipal/municipal-services/water/water-restrictions/ for more  details.

Properly operated micro or drip irrigation is allowed anytime.

This is certainly an encouragement to use drip. It only waters the plant not the empty surrounding soil, conserving water and reducing weed growth.

There is no spray into the air with drip so it’s not vulnerable to wind and evaporation.

The Okanagan Basin Water Board also offers water saving tips at www.makewaterwork.ca/.

To find out about water-wise gardening and find suitable plants for dry conditions, I invite you to attend my two  ‘Introduction to Xeriscape’ night classes on Wednesday, Sept. 16 and 23, or Thursday, Oct. 1 and 8.

Find more details and registration information at www.okanaganxeriscape.org.

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