Some streams are approaching critical flow levels, due to dropping water levels and a period of warm weather. (Peninsula News Review File)

Province calls on Islanders to conserve water immediately

Some streams approaching critical levels, threatening salmon and fish

The B.C. provincial government has announced a Level 3 drought rating for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, calling on residents to voluntarily conserve water.

The rating comes amid dropping water levels and ahead of an expected period of warm and dry weather, next week. Level 3 drought conditions call for voluntary water-use reductions for all surface water and groundwater users, including industry, farmers and municipalities.

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B.C. say that while some streams on Vancouver Island, especially those backed by storage reservoirs, are flowing at acceptable levels, several important salmon streams are approaching a critical point for ecosystems and fish, including juvenile trout and salmon. The environmental conditions and level of flow, are being closely monitored in case specific action is needed to protect fish within the streams.

The province warns that if voluntary reductions of water use are not enough to boost flows above critical levels, it is possible they will use powers under the Water Sustainability Act to regulate water usage. This could include temporarily suspending water licences or short-term water approvals, to restore flows to minimum critical levels in the affected streams. Before that happens, the Ministry is appealing to water users to conserve water and to let people clearly know what the alternative will be if critically affected streams’ flow levels do not improve.

Water intakes are screened to Fisheries and Oceans Canada standards on all the islands, in order to prevent fish from being pulled into water systems as water levels drop. Low water levels can prevent the passage of salmon and increase their susceptibility to disease or death, due to low oxygen and warm water temperatures.

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“Local water conservation bylaws may differ from provincial water conservation targets due to local supply and demand, and the availability of storage in lakes, reservoirs or groundwater,” the province said in a statement. “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.”

They remind citizens that water conservation is “everyone’s responsibility.”

It is believed that many communities in B.C. have drought management plans but people are reminded of action they can take to help.

At home:

  • Limit outdoor watering.
  • Do not water during the heat of the day or when it is windy.
  • Consider planting drought-tolerant vegetation.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Do not 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.

In industry:

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

For more information visit governmentofbc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

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