Extremely warm and dry conditions have prompted the Province to announce a Level 3 hydrological drought rating for much of coastal British Columbia.
The areas affected stretch along the coast from the Alaska border to the Lower Mainland and include the Skeena Nass and Stikine basins in the northwest. Haida Gwaii, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands are also included in the Level 3 drought rating. A map is available online: http://ow.ly/3xus30l9RPd
Level 3 drought conditions call for voluntary water-use reductions from all surface-water and groundwater users, including municipal, agricultural and industrial users.
The Province has identified a number of important fish bearing streams on Vancouver Island that are approaching critical environmental flow thresholds for ecosystems and fish. These include, but are not limited to, the Koksilah, Chemainus, San Juan and Salmon Rivers. Maximum water conservation is encouraged in these and other low-flow watersheds.
Ministry staff will continue to monitor river levels and angling closures may go into effect if the warm temperatures continue to negatively impact stream flows and water supplies.
If voluntary reductions of water use are not sufficient to maintain flows above critical levels, the ministry may consider regulating water usage under the Water Sustainability Act. Specific actions could include the temporary suspension of water licences or short-term water approvals to restore flows to minimum critical levels in the affected streams.
Water users on all streams are reminded to ensure that water intakes are screened to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans standards to prevent fish from being pulled into water systems as water levels drop. Low water levels can impede the passage of salmon, increase susceptibility to disease, or cause stranding or death due to low oxygen and high water temperatures.
Local municipal water conservation bylaws may differ from provincial water conservation targets, due to local water supply and demand, and the availability of storage (lakes and reservoirs) or groundwater. Residential, agricultural and industrial water users who are located within municipalities and regional districts are encouraged to observe local water conservation bylaws where they exist.
Water conservation is everyone’s responsibility. Many communities in B.C. are prepared to deal with water-supply shortages and low stream-flow conditions, and have drought management plans and water conservation programs already in place.
Water conservation tips:
- limit outdoor watering
- do not water during the heat of the day or when it is windy
- consider planting drought-tolerant vegetation
- take shorter showers
- do not leave the tap running (i.e. while brushing teeth)
- install water-efficient showerheads, taps and toilets
On the farm:
- implement an irrigation scheduling program using real-time weather data
- schedule irrigation to match crop needs and soil storage capacity
- improve water system efficiencies and check for leaks
- focus on high-value crops and livestock
- reduce non-essential water use
- recycle water used in industrial operations
- use water-efficient methods and equipment
Drought portal (maps, tables, angling closures): https://governmentofbc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=838d533d8062411c820eef50b08f7ebc