Despite rainfall over the past few weeks, streamflows in the central and northern regions of British Columbia are well below normal and continue to decline.
As a result, the Upper Fraser East, Nechako and Peace regions are being elevated from drought Level 2, dry, to drought Level 3, very dry.
The Northwest, Upper Fraser West, Middle Fraser and the Central Coast regions are all currently at drought Level 3. The Stikine and Skeena-Nass regions remain at drought Level 4, extremely dry.
If freeze-up in these regions occurs before streams, soil moisture and groundwater levels recharge, there is a risk of drought continuing into next year.
While cooler weather in these regions has improved stream temperatures and reduced stress on fish populations, continued very low streamflows can cause fish stranding and inhibit fall spawning species, including salmon and bull trout, from reaching spawning locations. A map of affected areas is available online: http://ow.ly/BY7z30lpdi0
Level 3 drought conditions call for voluntary water-use reductions from surface-water and groundwater users, including municipal, agricultural and industrial users. 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 Fisheries and Oceans Canada standards to prevent fish from being pulled into water systems as water levels drop.
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.
Drought portal (maps, tables, angling closures): https://governmentofbc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=838d533d8062411c820eef50b08f7ebc