The Government of British Columbia has announced a Level 3 drought rating for the North Thompson and South Thompson regions.
The Province is urging all water users, including residents, industry, farmers and municipalities, to reduce water consumption by 30%.
In both the North and South Thompson drainages, some streams have healthy flows, while a number of important salmon streams are experiencing flows that are problematic for fish, including returning adult salmon. Due to these variable conditions, water users should be aware which streams are of specific concern and reduce their consumption from these, including Bessette Creek in the South Thompson and Lemieux Creek in the North Thompson.
These streams provide regionally significant aquatic ecosystems, and there is potential for significant or irreversible harm to the ecosystems as a result of stream flows dropping below critical environmental flow thresholds. Ministry staff are closely monitoring river levels and may upgrade the drought level if the weather continues to have a negative effect on stream flows and water supply.
Due to the current conditions, regional water managers may take additional regulatory actions if they are deemed necessary. Under the Water Sustainability Act, a Section 86 Declaration of Significant Water Shortage Order, in conjunction with a Section 87 Critical Environmental Flow Protection Order, may be issued. Specific actions could include the temporary suspension of water licences or short-term water approvals, according to their dates of precedence, to restore flows to minimum critical levels in the affected streams. Any such actions will be site-specific and dependant on stream conditions.
Water users in both systems are also reminded to ensure that water intakes are screened to Fisheries and Oceans Canada standards to prevent fish from being pulled into water systems as water levels drop. Low water levels can impede the passage of salmon, increase susceptibility of fish to disease, and cause fish stranding or death due to low oxygen and high water temperatures.
Local 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. Residential, agricultural and industrial water users who are located within municipalities and regional districts are encouraged to observe local water conservation bylaws where they exist.
Water conservation is everyone’s responsibility. Many communities in B.C. are prepared to deal with water supply shortages and low stream-flow conditions and have drought management plans and water conservation programs already in place.
Water conservation tips
- Limit outdoor watering.
- Don’t water during the heat of the day or when it’s windy.
- Consider planting drought-tolerant vegetation.
- Take shorter showers.
- Don’t leave the tap running.
- 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.
2017 B.C. Drought Information Portal: http://arcg.is/1W9SMZv
Bessette Creek flow data (above Beaverjack Creek): https://wateroffice.ec.gc.ca/report/real_time_e.html?stn=08LC039
Lemieux Creek flow data (near the mouth): https://wateroffice.ec.gc.ca/report/real_time_e.html?stn=08LB078