With dry and warm temperatures forecast in the coming week, the province announced Friday a Level 3 drought rating for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
A release from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development calls on Islanders to conserve water with reductions for all surface and groundwater users, including industry, farmers and municipalities.
The province says while some streams have adequate flows, especially those backed by storage reservoirs, several important salmon streams are approaching critical flow thresholds for the ecosystem and fish, including juvenile trout and salmon.
If voluntary water reductions do not help keep flows above critical levels, the ministry says it may consider regulating water usage under the Water Sustainability Act with temporary suspensions of water licences or short-term water approvals.
The province encourages residents to limit outdoor watering, do not water during at hot times of the day or when it is windy, consider drought-tolerant vegetation, take shorter showers, do not leave taps running and install water-efficient showerheads, taps and toilets.
The ministry says low water levels can prevent salmon passage and increase susceptibility to disease or death due to low oxygen and warm water temperatures.
The City of Nanaimo said it will continue with Stage 2 Watering Restrictions, which took effect on May 1, 2019. This means sprinkling can only occur on even days for even-numbered houses and on odd days for odd-numbered houses. Sprinkling is only permitted for a maximum of two hours between 7-10 a.m. or 7-10 p.m. Nanaimo residents are encouraged to take voluntary action to reduce water use to avoid/defer the need for further restrictions.
“The decision by the province to increase the drought ranking was prompted by very low flows in most rivers and streams on the island and dry weather conditions which are expected to continue. Snow pack accumulation was 50 per cent below normal this winter, but that snow has already melted with the early warm spring weather. Long-range forecasts predict a summer that is warmer and drier than average. The city supports the province’s call for practising water conservation, particularly with discretionary outdoor water use,” the City of Nanaimo wrote in a release.
“The city’s water supply at Jump Lake is at its normal storage level for this time of year. It is anticipated there will be sufficient water for summer time use.”
You can find out more information on the government’s drought information portal.