Drought is affecting many areas of B.C., including the Southern and Central Interior, with water scarcity and low flows a major concern amidst a fire season that started early and is more intense than usual.
This year’s spring rainfall in the Southern Interior was the second lowest since records began being kept in Kamloops in the 1880s. The record high temperatures of the “heat dome” at the end of June, and continued hot, dry weather through July, has exacerbated the situation, prompting the province to ask all water users in the Thompson-Okanagan region to reduce their water consumption by 30 per cent.
The Salmon River watershed (which drains into Shuswap Lake), Kettle River, Nicola watershed, and Coldwater River watersheds are currently at Drought Level 4. In these areas, significant, adverse impacts on fish are very likely, and maximum water conservation for all water users and licensees is urged.
Areas under Drought Level 3 include the watersheds of the west Kootenays and the lower Columbia River, the North and South Thompson rivers and their watersheds, and the entire Okanagan valley.
British Columbia ranks drought levels from 0 to 5. Drought Level 5 is rated as the most severe, with adverse impacts to socioeconomic or ecosystem values being almost certain.
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.
The Villages of Clinton and Ashcroft have already gone to Stage 2 watering restrictions. Please see the relevant bylaws on the Clinton and Ashcroft websites for details, or contact the appropriate village office. Cache Creek does not currently have a water use bylaw, but has asked all residents and businesses to voluntarily conserve water.
Some easy ways to conserve water include limiting your outdoor watering; not watering during the heat of the day or when it is windy; taking shorter showers and not leaving taps running; and installing water-efficient, low-flow showerheads, taps, and toilets.
The Village of Ashcroft has free water conservation kits available with several low-flow devices, including showerheads, faucets, and a “toilet tank bank”; they can be picked up at the village office.