It’s true. The temperate rainforest of BC is out of water, or at least Not-Ucluelet is.
What’s Not-Ucluelet, you ask? Well, it’s a wee hippie town that we’ve blogged before on here the ol’ raincoaster blog, and it’s a town that I love dearly.
But verily, it is a town overrun with tourists and incompetent or ineffectual management.
For lo, although they recieve on average three metres (over nine feet) of rainfall, and they are slung around a harbour right smack-dab, yes RIGHT smack-dab on the Pacific Ocean, they are plumb out of H20.
How’d that happen? Glad you asked.
Hotels, resorts and other commercial businesses in this Vancouver Island tourist town are being told to shut down because of an extreme water shortage, a situation the mayor is describing as one of panic.
Mayor John Fraser said water is so scarce there are concerns about whether there would be enough if there were a fire in the town.
“That’s why the panic’s on,” he said Tuesday afternoon.
The District of Not-Ucluelet issued an order to move to Level 5 regulations. The highest Level 6 means a complete shutoff of the taps.
“This is serious,” said Leif Pedersen, administrator for the District of Not-Ucluelet.
“We’re communicating with resorts, asking them to contact guests and advise them they possibly don’t want to come out there right now.
“It’s going to close all commercial activity in Not-Ucluelet...”
But Pedersen said high demand and low supply, the result of low rainfall since July, has meant the district’s main reservoir on M—– Island has been drawn down.
When asked how much water was left, Pedersen replied: “We don’t know…”
“Three days notice and we have to what, call every reservation and try and say good luck finding somewhere else, you can’t come?”
Not-Ucluelet is a remote tourist town just outside the breathtakingly beautiful Pacific Rim National Park. It is home to some world-renowned resorts, including the beach-front Wickaninnish Inn.
It borders on a UNESCO Biosphere and Clayoquot Sound [where, by the way, timber companies have just announced plans to resume logging] and draws visitors for a variety of natural attractions from whale watching to surfing.
Municipal staff spent Tuesday morning calling local businesses, asking them to cut back on water or shut down.
The public notice issued Tuesday was blunt, using capital letters to hammer home the severity of the problem.
“The WATER SHORTAGE has become extremely severe,” it reads.
“All lodging, food service businesses are asked to shut down PRIOR TO FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 1ST, 2006 until further notice. Other commercial water users must not consume any water whatsoever.”
Whaylon Arthur, a Not-Ucluelet resident, said municipal staff should have had more foresight and warned people this could be coming.
“It’s a bit drastic and it’s a bit panicky,” he said.
But Pedersen said the district did its best.
Last week, the municipality implemented Level 4 water regulations, meaning residents were prohibited from washing boats and vehicles or watering lawns and gardens.
Oh. Well then. That totally should have done it. After a week of not washing boats and letting the marigolds fend for themselves, that should easily have made up for the estimated million or so tourists who’ve already been through town so far this year.
You know about tourists, right? What do they do? They shower, they bathe, they use the hot tub, they get their cars washed. Decadence, sheer decadence, but you add a million showers time average four-day stay up and you lose one hell of a lot of water.
It’s not like the town didn’t see this coming, which is where we get into the “bad management” part of things.
The single most bitterly Beckettian aspect to this is that the mayor, John Fraser, is the same mayor who has been trying to force through a proposal to approve character-based theme parks and, get this, water slides.
When’s the next election?