Drought is affecting much of Vancouver Island and southern British Columbia, due to low spring rainfall amounts, as well as the recent extreme heat wave and record high temperatures in June and early July across the entire region.
The East Vancouver Island Basin is at Drought Level 4. At this level, adverse impacts on people or ecosystems are likely. Adverse impacts on fish have been observed, due to very high water temperatures combined with low flow conditions, dewatering of riffle habitats and disconnected side channels. Water conservation is being urged across the region to help reduce the risk of significant impacts on the environment or other water users.
British Columbia ranks drought levels from 0 to 5, with Drought Level 5 rated as the most severe with adverse impacts to socio-economic or ecosystem values being almost certain.
Areas of particular concern for risk of additional impacts of water scarcity and drought include but are not limited to the following watersheds: Sandhill Creek, Koksilah River, Chemainus River, Millstone River, Tsolum River, Black Creek, Fulford Creek on Salt Spring Island, as well as the majority of the Gulf Islands.
The West Vancouver Island Basin, which roughly stretches from Cape Scott to Jordan River, is currently under Drought Level 3. Under these conditions, local adverse impacts to water users, fish or ecosystems are possible.
Many other watersheds throughout central and southern B.C. are also experiencing drought and water scarcity.
Water conservation is everyone’s responsibility. Aggressive conservation is being urged for all areas affected by drought. Residential, agricultural and industrial water users in areas affected by drought should observe all water conservation bylaws, watering restrictions and advice from their local government, irrigation district or water utility.
Irrigators, water licensees and water users in watersheds with water scarcity should prepare and plan in case additional targeted water restrictions or temporary protection orders under the Water Sustainability Act are required as the summer progresses.
General 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 taps running.
- 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, definitions):
Freshwater sportfishing regulations and angling closures: