Drought level increased in four areas of southern B.C.

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DroughtMap july 27 2015Vancouver: Responding to continuing dry conditions, the Government of B.C. has announced a Level 4 drought rating for the South Thompson, Similkameen, Kettle and Skagit areas due to ongoing low stream flows.

At Level 4, conditions are extremely dry. Further declines in stream, lake and aquifer levels could lead to water shortages and affect people, industry such as agriculture, wildlife, and fish stocks. All water users, including those who access groundwater, are urged to maximize their water conservation efforts.

The establishment of a Level 4 drought advisory, signals that regional water managers may take additional regulatory actions if they are deemed necessary. Any such actions will be site specific depending on individual stream conditions. Specific actions could include the temporary suspension of water licences or short-term water approvals in affected watersheds if necessary. Ministry water management staff will continue to monitor conditions, work closely with First Nations, local governments and key stakeholders, and provide updates as the need arises.

Although residential, agricultural and industrial users within municipalities and regional districts backed by reservoir storage are less vulnerable to water supply shortages than water users served by smaller water systems from streams, lakes and wells, all water users are encouraged to observe local water conservation bylaws to prolong water supplies and to maintain flows for fish and ecosystems.

Water users are also reminded to ensure that water intakes are screened to prevent fish from being pulled into water systems as water levels drop. Low water levels can impede the passage of salmon to spawning grounds, increase susceptibility to disease, or cause stranding or death due to low oxygen and high water temperatures.

Drought ratings for the South Thompson, Similkameen, Kettle and Skagit areas were last adjusted on July 10, 2015, when they were increased to Level 3. The Okanagan area remains at Level 3 at this time.