Chimney Lake licence restrictions issued

It seems incongruous, but while some areas of the Cariboo-Chilcotin are near flooding others are simply drying up.

It seems incongruous, but while some areas of the Cariboo-Chilcotin are near flooding others are simply drying up.

In the Chimney Lake watershed, for example, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has implemented water licence restrictions due to low winter snowpack.

A press release issued by the ministry indicates that unless there is a “significant” rainfall for the remainder of May there will not be enough water to supply licensed demand.

Bill Klopp, engineer under the Water Act for the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, defines “significant” as 15 inches of vertical storage in Chimney Lake spillway.

Currently, there are only eight inches.

Due to the lack of water, Klopp has determined only the three oldest licences on Chimney Lake system will be able to access water until Sept. 30, 2011.

Any licence newer than Oct. 6, 1976 and domestic water users — unlicensed users — will be restricted from using the lake supply.

In times of limited supply, the Water Act protects the oldest licences on a system first, allowing them to draw their take of water.

Klopp says this year’s situation is similar to last but not as dire. The problem with Chimney Lake, he says, is that it has a small watershed above the lake; only two streams feed the system.

“It’s such a large surface area lake for such small inlet flows. It’s a trickle coming in. We’ve got two little creeks coming in there and we’ve measured flows coming in on those and they are not even making up for the average evaporation in the month of May right now,” Klopp says.

“We’ve been out there. The snow melt is over and the flows measured don’t event count for the evaporation for the month.”

Klopp says he doesn’t expect this will be a popular decision.

Last year when a similar situation occurred property owners who were disallowed from accessing water drilled wells on their properties as the restrictions then as now do not apply to groundwater withdraws from wells.

“We’ve had years when I was afraid the dams were going to blow out.

“We’re just in a bad cycle right now,” Klopp says.

The order will last until Sept. 30, 2011 or until it is rescinded.



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