Media Contacts

Media Relations

Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
250 356-5261


Drought: A co-ordinated cross-government response

Agricultural sector

  • The Ministry of Agriculture is in regular contact with B.C. farmers and ranchers, as well as the federal government to share information on crops and livestock and technical resources, and to support scenario response planning.
  • In partnership with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Ministry of Agriculture, has developed an Agricultural Water Demand Model to determine how much water the agriculture industry needs today and in the future for a number of regions including Metro Vancouver, Nanaimo, Cowichan, Okanagan, Similkameen, Kettle, Nicola, Bonaparte, Salmon River, North Thompson, South Thompson, Comox, Fraser Valley, Lillooet, Pemberton, East Kootenay, Southern Gulf Island, and Cariboo. The model results can be used by each of the regions in developing their watershed plans and water reserves for agriculture:
  • The Ministry of Agriculture is working with the federal government and the agriculture industry to proactively plan for climate change and extreme weather conditions and that partnership has resulted in regional agriculture climate adaptation strategies for several regions of the province including the Cariboo, Peace, Okanagan-Thompson, Lower Mainland, and Cowichan Valley:

Water Management and the Water Sustainability Act

  • When the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) comes into force next year, additional provisions will enable government to better respond to drought including:
    • Modifying the current priority system of water rights to make allowances for essential household needs of up to 250 litres per person per day and the authority to temporarily regulate water use during drought to protect critical environmental flows.
    • Expanding government’s ability to protect aquatic ecosystems during times of water shortage by providing the minister the authority to issue a temporary order declaring a significant water shortage in a specific area and allowing water managers to define and protect critical environmental flow thresholds in streams.
    • Enabling more complete water management by licensing groundwater use. All non-domestic groundwater users will be required to obtain a water licence. Domestic groundwater users will not be required to obtain a licence; however they will be subject to the WSA and its regulations.
    • Maintaining the minister’s power under the Fish Protection Act to order the temporary reduction of water use to protect fish habitat. This power was first used in 2009 when low winter snowpacks and a long dry summer threatened the health of kokanee salmon populations in the Upper Nicola River.

Human health

  • Health authorities will continue to work with government, municipalities and others to protect and conserve water resources while these conditions remain.