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Provincial drought, water-scarcity conditions continue

Drought and water scarcity continues to impact most of the southern half of British Columbia.

This includes east Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands which are under Level 4 Drought.

Most of these areas have experienced little to no rainfall over the last five weeks, with continued dry weather in the forecast.

Many freshwater angling closures are also in place throughout B.C., due to increased stress to fish from low flows and high water temperatures.

Other areas currently under Drought Level 4 include:

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  • the Salmon River, Coldwater River and Nicola River watersheds in the Thompson-Okanagan; and
  • the Kettle River, Lower Columbia Basin, and West Kootenay Basin.

In these areas, adverse impacts of drought on people, fish or ecosystems are likely.

Regions currently under Drought Level 3 include the entire Okanagan Valley, Similkameen, South Coast and Lower Mainland, Cariboo/Chilcotin, North and South Thompson Basins and parts of Western Vancouver Island. 

Of note, several local streams on the Sunshine Coast, Lower Mainland, Okanagan and Cariboo/Quesnel within these broad areas are experiencing greater impacts.

Twelve other watershed basins in B.C. are either under Drought Level 2 or Drought Level 1. 

B.C. 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.

The province is urging everyone to conserve water wherever possible, and to observe all watering restrictions from their local/regional government, water utility provider or irrigation district.

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The government says that if “conservation measures do not achieve sufficient results and drought conditions worsen, temporary protection orders under the Water Sustainability Act may be issued to water licensees, to avoid significant or irreversible harm to aquatic ecosystems.”

Provincial staff are actively monitoring the situation and working to balance water uses with environmental flow needs.

Water being used to extinguish a fire or contain and control the spread of a fire remains exempt from a provincial water licence or approval. However, people under an evacuation order due to wildfire must leave the area immediately.

General water conservation tips include, at home:

  • limiting outdoor watering,
  • Not using water during the heat of the day or when it is windy,
  • considering planting drought-tolerant vegetation,
  • taking shorter showers.
  • not leaving taps running, and
  • installing water-efficient showerheads, taps and toilets.

On the farm:

  • implementing an irrigation scheduling program using real-time weather data,
  • scheduling irrigation to match crop needs and soil storage capacity, and
  • improving water system efficiencies and check for leaks,
  • focus on high-value crops and livestock.


  • reducing non-essential water use,
  • recycling water used in industrial operations, and
  • using water-efficient methods and equipment.
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