The Province is urging people across British Columbia to conserve water as current forecasts suggest much of the province will experience drought conditions through the summer months.
While the recent rains have provided relief for some regions in B.C., it has not been enough to overcome the limited rain and precipitation from previous months. The increased flows that are present in some streams and river systems are likely to be shortlived.
Everyone is responsible to do their part to conserve water and reduce the risk of negatively affecting the environment and other water users. Water suppliers and vendors are also asked to ensure that they have an adequate water supply until rainfall can improve conditions.
The Province continues to work with communities in preparation for the summer. If conservation measures do not achieve sufficient results and drought conditions worsen, temporary protection orders under the Water Sustainability Act may be issued to water licensees to support drinking water for communities and avoid significant or irreversible harm to aquatic ecosystems. Provincial staff are monitoring the situation and working to balance water use with environmental flow needs.
People and businesses in affected areas should reduce water use wherever possible and observe all watering restrictions from their local or regional government, water utility provider or irrigation district.
Areas currently under Drought Level 4 include: the East Peace, Fort Nelson, and Finlay areas. The majority of other watershed basins in B.C. are in Drought Levels 2 or 3.
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.
Water use to extinguish a fire or contain and control the spread of a fire is exempt from a provincial water licence or approval. However, anyone under an evacuation order due to wildfire must leave the area immediately.
General water conservation tips:
- limit outdoor watering, including lawns;
- do not water during the heat of the day or when it is windy;
- consider planting drought-tolerant vegetation;
- find ways to reduce personal water use, such as taking shorter showers and only doing full loads of dishes and laundry;
- do not leave taps running; and
- 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; and
- focus on high-value crops and livestock.
- reduce non-essential water use;
- recycle water used in industrial operations; and
- use water-efficient methods and equipment
- Drought is a recurrent feature of climate involving a deficiency of precipitation over an extended period, resulting in a water shortage.
- The Province uses a six-level drought classification, 0-5, to explain the severity and appropriate level of response to drought conditions.
- At Drought Level 4, conditions are extremely dry and adverse impacts to socio-economic or ecosystem values are likely.
- Voluntary measures and increasing use of watering restrictions will continue and may be augmented by regulatory action by the provincial government where necessary to reduce water user conflicts or protect the environment.
- At Drought Level 3, conditions are becoming severely dry. Potentially serious ecosystem or socio-economic impacts are possible in some circumstances.
- All unauthorized use should be curtailed. Water suppliers are much more likely to impose watering restrictions, and data collection for regulatory action by the provincial government may start to occur.
To view the B.C. Drought Information Portal, including maps and tables, visit: https://governmentofbc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=838d533d8062411c820eef50b08f7ebc
For drought information, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/water/drought-flooding-dikes-dams/drought-information
For freshwater sportfishing regulations and angling closures, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/fishingregulations
For the River Forecast Centre, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/water/drought-flooding-dikes-dams/river-forecast-centre
For information about drought and agriculture, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/agricultural-land-and-environment/water/drought-in-agriculture