Province issues its highest drought alert for southern and eastern Vancouver Island
The province is urging people to conserve water as much as possible because of extremely dry conditions that will force the closure of the sports fishery in much of the southern island between July 1 and Sept. 1.
“The closures are deemed necessary because increased temperatures and reduced flows can have impacts on survivals and stress levels on fish,” said Mike Ramsey, fisheries manager for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Fisheries biologists have determined conservation is triggered for streams and watersheds where temperatures exceed 20 C and river flow drops below five per cent, Ramsey said Tuesday.
The ministry’s water stewardship manager Valerie Cameron said the drought alert comes five days earlier than the one issued last year, when extremely dry conditions lasted until September.
She said the River Forecast Centre determined that drought conditions are extremely dry, or a rating of Level 4, by analyzing conditions such as stream levels and snowpack that would melt into reservoirs and saturate the ground.
The area covered by that level extends from north of Campbell River and the Discovery Islands down the east coast of Vancouver Island, and includes Victoria, Sooke and Port Renfrew.
“We have dry soil, we have dropping ground-water levels and we have dropping stream levels so it would be a significant precipitation event of the sort that we normally get in the fall to turn things around,” Cameron said.
“That’s not immediately in the forecast.”
Areas north of Campbell River and along the west coast of Vancouver Island remain at a Level 3 drought rating, indicating very dry conditions, though the ministry said people should still limit the amount of water they use.
Cameron said the province is asking everyone in that area, including industry, farmers and municipalities, to voluntarily conserve the maximum amount of water so it does not have to regulate water usage.
Water restrictions such as sprinkling bylaws are usually put in place by municipal governments, based on local water supply and provincial drought guidelines.