The City of Merritt has increased water restrictions to Level 5 effective immediately amid severe heat and drought conditions.

“With information provided by the Province of B.C., the City of Merritt has now entered Level 5 watering restrictions,” said the city in a release.

Level 5 watering restrictions mean no lawn watering and no garden sprinklers for Merritt residents. Flowers, trees, and shrubs can no longer be watered, with the exception of fruit trees. Vegetable gardens and fruit trees can be hand watered using a hose with an automatic shut-off valve, or by drip irrigation system.

The change comes amid severe drought throughout B.C., including the Coldwater River, part of which drains into the city’s aquifers. There is severe risk to fish and other wildlife due to low water levels.

“Much of the province is in severe drought conditions,” noted the city. “The Coldwater River in particular is in a crisis situation. As a ‘losing reach’ or ‘sinking river’ where incoming water drains into aquifers that supply the city, fish habitats are stressed to the level where the river may lose its ability to support the lives of fish and all the other animals that depend on that ecosystem.”

Under the new restrictions, outdoor washing of any kind is prohibited unless ordered by a regulatory authority. Washing vehicle windows is permitted for safety reasons, and commercial car washes in the city remain open.

Bulk water usage is also not permitted, with the exception of drinking water. Pools and hot tubs cannot be topped up at this time. Contractors that require water for construction are required to bring in their own bulk water, rather than using city water.

“Every resident needs to conserve water wherever possible to protect our drinking water and fish habitats,” added the release.

At a July 21 meeting, city council passed amendments to the city’s Outdoor Water Conversation Policy, which were made after consultation with the policy review committee. The changes include:

  • Modification of the requirement to strictly adhere to the Province of B.C.’s Drought Information Portal, thereby enabling the city to respond to the unique needs of the community.
  • Changes to the watering days and times. Namely in Level 3, even numbered addresses are now Thursday & Sunday. And in Level 4, residents are now limited to watering with a manual sprinkler one time a day: 6 a.m. – 8 a.m. Currently, restrictions sit at Level 5.
  • Strata complexes were included with mobile homes, which should water in accordance with their unit number.
  • A new graphic chart was created to help enhance clarity of the watering restrictions.

For more information on the city’s watering restrictions, visit their website at www.merritt.ca/watering.