Vancouver Island residents are being asked to conserve water as drought conditions affect parts of southwestern B.C.
“With weather conditions expected to remain warm and dry in the coming week, dropping water levels have prompted the province to announce a Level 3 drought rating for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands,” reads a June 7 media release.
Level 3 drought conditions mean that residents, industry, and municipalities are asked to voluntarily reduce their use of water.
“While some streams on Vancouver Island, especially those backed by storage reservoirs, have adequate flows, several important salmon streams are approaching critical environmental flow thresholds for ecosystems and fish, including juvenile trout and salmon,” the release reads.
“If voluntary reductions of water use are insufficient to maintain flows above critical levels, the province may consider regulating water usage under the Water Sustainability Act,” it continues. “Specific actions could include temporarily suspending water licences or short-term water approvals to restore flows to minimum critical levels in the affected streams. Ministry staff are contacting water users to encourage water conservation and to educate users about potential water regulation.”
The province has also asked for voluntary water-use reductions in parts of northern B.C.
“Below-normal stream flows and signs of drought in smaller streams have caused the province to declare a Level 3 drought rating for the Fort Nelson area,” another release states.
The province has not asked Lower Mainland residents to reduce their use of water but Metro Vancouver has.
“Our water use can increase by 50 percent in summer and early fall, largely due to lawn watering,” reads a Metro Vancouver website about water regulations. “The region‑wide watering regulations are an effective way to help us use our drinking water wisely.”
Under “Stage 1” rules, even-numbered residential addresses are only permitted to water their lawns on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. Odd-numbered homes can turn their sprinklers on Thursday and Sunday mornings. Residents can use a sprinkler to water trees, shrubs, and flowers any day of the week as long as it’s before 9 a.m. There are no restrictions on hand-watering.
The rules for Metro Vancouver are scheduled to remain in effect until October and could become more stringent as temperatures climb through the summer.
Readers can learn more about current water conditions at the province’s online “drought information portal”.