The BX Creek area circa 1924.

Climate History a century apart

The El Niño conditions which made for a mild and green Christmas in Vernon appear to be persisting somewhat into January. However, a century ago, the opposite scenario was unfolding.

In January of 1924, Vernon faced exceptionally frigid weather conditions. The freezing of BX Creek compelled the City to exclusively rely on pumping water from a reservoir for its residents. In the early days of the new year, city authorities grew alarmed as the reservoir’s water level dipped below the threshold deemed critical for fire protection.

The legacy of pressure reducing valves

City Superintendent Excell believed that the water level in the reservoir was decreasing more rapidly than the usual demand for city use. This acceleration was attributed to residents keeping their taps running overnight to prevent the freezing of exposed pipes. He advocated for discontinuing this habit, and encouraged residents to adopt water conservation measures.

Vernon’s citizens responded to this appeal, and by mid-month the level in the reservoir had risen just above the critical level. Mr. Excell then changed his tune slightly, suggesting that the elevated water consumption in Vernon was not solely a result of individual decisions but was more indicative of exceedingly high pressure in the city’s pipes. A pressure of 140 lbs was sustained for fire protection but, according to Excell, this was excessive for typical household needs. Excell suggested that pressure reducing valves should be installed to mitigate this problem.

Thankfully, Vernon received a respite in the freezing temperatures towards the end of the month, and the water restrictions were lifted. In the subsequent years, the use of pressure reducing valves became standard practice, a development that would have greatly pleased Mr. Excell.

 

To explore more of Vernon’s history, check out our other blog posts!

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives