Provincial Drought Level 4 for Kootenay Boundary

The Provincial Government of British Columbia has issued a Level 4 Drought for the Kootenay Boundary region (the entire Kettle River Watershed) as of  Friday, September 8, 2017.

With little to no precipitation, our recently overflowing rivers are now drying up. The Granby River, Kettle and West Kettle River are all at or below critical low flow levels. These flow thresholds are the minimum necessary for the next generation of fish and other aquatic species to survive. So far, there isn’t a fishing ban in effect but that may change with little to no rain in the forecast.

This drought season is showing more extremes, with water flow levels even lower than the 2015 Drought. At Level 4, the Province asks that residents, municipalities, industry and farmers use at least 50% less water than normal. Many people in the boundary obtain their water from the aquifers via their groundwater wells. This withdrawal also impacts the rivers since in this region the rivers are recharged by the aquifers later in the season.

All residents of the Kettle River Watershed region, which spans from Big White to Christina Lake, are urged to conserve water. The City of Grand Forks will be implementing drought response measures on Monday September 11, which will include major cut backs on water use outdoors.

Visit the City’s webpage to see these restrictions. The Kettle River Watershed Authority will have a booth at the Grand Forks Fall Fair this weekend Saturday and Sunday, next weekend at the Rock Creek Fall Fair and at the Harvest Festival on September 30 in Grand Forks. Come visit us and learn water saving tips and conservation techniques.

Water conservation urged as drought levels increase in southern B.C. Interior

Responding to continuing warm and dry conditions, the Province has announced a Level 4 drought rating for the South Thompson, Kettle and Granby watersheds.

The Province is urging all surface water and groundwater users, including residents, industry, farmers and municipalities, to voluntarily reduce water consumption. A Level 4 drought rating recommends maximum reduction of water use.

Recent precipitation in the southern Interior has not been substantial enough to recharge streams. With a forecast of continued dry conditions, stream flows are expected to continue to drop, providing additional stress for fish and ecosystems, as well as reducing water supplies for water users.

The Province has elevated the above areas to Drought Level 4 because conditions are extremely dry and stream flows are approaching critical environmental low-flow thresholds for fish populations, including spawning kokanee, chinook and sockeye salmon in the South Thompson watershed, and rainbow and brown trout in the Kettle and Granby watersheds.

The Salmon, Similkameen, Nicola and Coldwater watersheds already reached Drought Level 4 earlier in the season.

If voluntary reductions of water use are not sufficient to maintain flows above critical levels, the Province may consider regulating water usage under the Water Sustainability Act. Specific actions could include the temporary suspension of water licences or short-term water approvals to restore flows to minimum critical levels in the impacted streams. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources and Rural Development staff are in the process of directly contacting water users in critical watersheds to encourage water conservation and to advise of potential water regulation.

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

At home:

  • 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.

Industry:

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

Learn More:

2017 B.C. Drought Information Portal: http://arcg.is/1W9SMZv

B.C. Drought Response Plan: www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/air-land-water/water/drought-info/drought-response-plan-update-june-2015.pdf

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

Shuswap River near Enderby (in South Thompson watershed): https://wateroffice.ec.gc.ca/report/real_time_e.html?stn=08LC002

Kettle River (near Westbridge): https://wateroffice.ec.gc.ca/report/real_time_e.html?stn=08NN026

Granby River (at Grand Forks): https://wateroffice.ec.gc.ca/report/real_time_e.html?stn=08NN002