DOWN TO EARTH: Do I have to still save water with all this rain?

Since 2006, Williams Lake residents have responded amazingly to the Water Wise message

A big part of my day-to- day job is to encourage the residents of Williams Lake and the surrounding region to conserve water. That gets a bit more difficult when lake levels are bursting, rivers overflowing their banks and every step you take oozes water out of the ground. Firefighters are questioning their purpose in life and Brianna from our own organization is pulling up her farm vegetables that are flooded under three feet of water.

So can you finally have those half-hour showers again and stop nagging at your kids to turn off the taps? (though if my program is working, hopefully they are the ones reminding you).

Well, the answer is a definite no. If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you probably know that the City gets its water from an underground aquifer, deep below the Williams Lake valley. This aquifer was created by glacial scouring of a channel in the bedrock, which then filled in with sand and gravel to a thickness of about 60 metres. Then it was covered with many layers of till, silty sand and silt deposited by the lake on top (the ‘aquitard’), essentially covering the porous gravel/sand aquifer with a lid. This makes it a confined or semi- confined aquifer; the volume of water stored in the gravel is restricted by the bedrock and the cap of less permeable silt and till on top.

The aquifer gets recharged mostly from Williams Lake, slowly finding its way through the aquitard, but also from water draining through the ground along the walls of the valley and further up through the San Jose river watershed. When the City of Williams Lake first became concerned about the long term sustainability of the aquifer around fifteen years ago, the recharge rate was not quite meeting the demands of the city and there were concerns the aquifer was ‘drawing down’ and water levels were dropping. The issue with this is that as the gravel in the aquifer loses water, the silt/till lid on top can sink down and fill the porous gravel spaces (consolidation), so that the aquifer can no longer refill with water should it become available again. In other words, once an aquifer is lost, it is lost forever.

Since 2006, Williams Lake residents have responded amazingly to the Water Wise message. Water use is about 25 per cent lower than it was in 2006 and the recharge rate can now meet the current demands of the city. However, if everyone in Williams Lake looked at these last two wet summers and decided to forget everything they have learned about water conservation, a dramatic increase in water use could easily exceed the recharge rate again and put the long term health of the aquifer (and by extension, the town itself) at risk.

So, please keep having those short showers and turning off the taps as you watch the rain come down, knowing that you are an integral part of keeping this beautiful region and its resources protected for future generations.

Water Wise tip: Lawn pesticides and herbicides can be easily transmitted to local waterways. Choose environmentally friendly alternatives.

For more information on Water Wise or Waste Wise and any of our school and community programs, contact the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society at or visit the website at

Jenny Howell is the water wise instructor and the executive director of the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society.

Do you have a comment about this story? email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Williams Lake

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

CH-149 Cormorant helicopters may be part of night training exercises in the Chilcotin this month. (Canadian Armed Forces photo)
442 Transport and Rescue Squadron to hold night training in the Chilcotin

The public may see flares and search and rescue technicians parachuting to the ground

Snow is in the forecast for Williams Lake Friday, Oct. 23, which has already been falling in areas of the Chilcotin as seen here at Nimpo Lake. (Harriet Hird photo)
Ice, snow, chilly temperatures in forecast for Williams Lake area

Temperatures will dip down to -11C on Friday evening

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Motorist pulls into B.C. RCMP detachment after roadkill eagle comes back to life in minivan

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

COVID-19. (Courtesy of CDC).
Interior Health reports 12 additional COVID-19 cases

The total number of cases in the region is now at 644

Part of the committee’s business plan is to give the “school,” officially known as the Wells-Barkerville Culture and Recreation Centre, a new name. (District of Wells)
Wells school renovation gets funding boost from mining company

Barkerville Gold Mines has put half a million dollars into the project to renovate the closed school

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Squirrels recovering from tail amputation after sap situation near Victoria

BC SPCA Wild ARC says squirrels will be released back into wild, fifth sibling was euthanized

More and more electric cars are on the road, but one Chevy Bolt owner was shocked to see how much his BC Hydro bill skyrocketed once he started charging the vehicle. (Black Press file photo)
Lower Mainland man sees significant spike in BC Hydro bill after buying electrical vehicle

An increase should be expected, but Brian Chwiendacz experienced a 200-plus per cent hike

Most Read