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Thompson Okanagan drought, water-scarcity conditions

Thompson Okanagan drought, water-scarcity conditions

July 22, 2021 at 3:55 pm  BC, News, Politics

Drought is affecting much of British Columbia, including many parts of the southern and central Interior.

Very low spring rainfall, exacerbated by the recent extreme heat and record conditions in June and early July, is causing water scarcity and low flows.

In the Thompson Okanagan Region, water users in all areas are asked for a 30% reduction in water use. Areas subject to a request for further curtailment will receive notices via email or mail.

Water conservation is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone needs to do their part to conserve water resources, to reduce the risk of impacts on the environment and other water users.

The Salmon River watershed (which drains into Shuswap Lake), the Kettle River, the Nicola watershed and the 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. Many other areas in the central and southern Interior are under Drought Level 2 or Drought Level 1. Conserving water resources is also important in these areas, to reduce the risk of adverse impacts to water users or the environment.

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.

Freshwater angling closures are also in place in all streams in Management Unit 8 that are experiencing Drought Level 3 or higher, due to increased stress to fish caused 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 experiencing water scarcity should prepare and plan in case additional targeted local water restrictions or provincial temporary protection orders under the Water Sustainability Act are required as the summer progresses.

General water conservation tips:

At home:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Industry:

  • Reduce non-essential water use.
  • Recycle water used in industrial operations.
  • Use water-efficient methods and equipment.

Learn More:

Drought portal (maps, tables):
https://governmentofbc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=838d533d8062411c820eef50b08f7ebc

Drought information:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/water/drought-flooding-dikes-dams/drought-information

Freshwater sportfishing regulations and angling closures: www.gov.bc.ca/fishingregulations

River Forecast Centre:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/water/drought-flooding-dikes-dams/river-forecast-centre

Drought and agriculture:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/agricultural-land-and-environment/water/drought-in-agriculture

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