Extremely warm and dry conditions have prompted the provincial government to announce a Level 3 hydrological drought rating for much of coastal BC.
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.
In a release, the government said 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 rivers include the Koksilah, Chemainus, San Juan and Salmon Rivers. Maximum water conservation is encouraged in these and other low-flow watersheds.
The province said 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,” the government said in a statement.
This means that 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.
In light of the advisory, the province is also providing a list of ways in which to conserve water. These include:
- 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
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.