Why Water Restrictions Are Needed

Water Restrictions in the Comox Valley

The CVRD implemented changes to its Water Conservation bylaw on May 1, 2018 to reduce consumption of water and make it easier for residents to comply with annual water restrictions. 

Why do we need water restrictions?


Lake water levels graphic


Residents connected to the Comox Valley Water System rely on water drawn from Comox Lake. We are fortunate to have the glacier fed Comox Lake as the source for our drinking water, but the Lake does not offer an infinite supply of fresh water.

Comox Lake is approximately 61 meters deep during the winter months. Only 4.5 meters of that total depth is available for domestic use, fish flows and power generation.  

In the summer when the snow has already melted and the rain stops, the depth of the lake reduces and the amount of water that we can access shrinks with the level of the lake. During low snowpack and rainfall years, BC Hydro reduces the amount of water it releases down the Puntledge River to ensure there is enough water available in storage keep the river flowing optimally for fish habitat and migration until the fall rains arrive. As summer weather intensifies, conditions become more and more difficult for the salmon population in the river. During these times, it is important that we do our part to limit domestic water use to protect our salmon populations.

The Comox Valley Water System moves to Stage 1 restrictions on May 1 each year. Not only is this the right thing to do from a conservation perspective but it also helps to prepare us for the shift to Stage 2 when lake levels begin to decrease and BC Hydro adjusts the Puntledge River water flows. The CVRD's water license requires that water restrictions are tied to these flows.

The following river flows trigger staged restrictions beyond Stage 1 for users of the Comox Valley water system.

Puntledge River Flow Thresholds for Water Restriction Stages

River Flow Rate (Cubic Metres per Second)Required Restrictions
Below 15.6Stage 2
Below 11.3Stage 3
Below 5.6Stage 4

Note: Staged restrictions may be implemented for other reasons outside of river flow rates, such as the need to reduce water use due to operational work which may put a strain on the water system.

Comox Valley Water Conservation Bylaw

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