Some rural residents of the Thompson-Okanagan and Cariboo are being encouraged to reduce water consumption by up to 30 percent.
“With streams and rivers in the Middle Fraser, Similkameen, Coldwater, Nicola and Kettle watersheds experiencing very low flows, and weather conditions expected to remain dry, residents of the Cariboo and Thompson-Okanagan regions are urged to reduce their water consumption,” states a release from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources.
“These areas are currently experiencing Level 3 hydrological drought conditions, which call for voluntary water use reductions of 30% from all water users.”
The ministry says the regions could experience water supply shortages this year unless there is substantial precipitation. Ministry staff are closely monitoring river levels and may upgrade the drought level if weather continues to have a negative effect on stream flows and water supply.
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 located within municipalities and regional districts are encouraged to observe local water conservation bylaws where they exist. While water conservation is the goal, it is recognized that water is needed to extinguish fires.
Jennifer Miles, water sustainability coordinator with the Regional District of North Okanagan, says the ministry uses a different system than Greater Vernon.
“I think it’s really great to let folks know (about this), especially people who are on a private water source, folks who may be drawing water directly from a stream in rural areas. It’s really important for them to be aware of this, and for them to conserve water,” Miles tells Kiss FM.
Miles says it doesn’t really apply to Greater Vernon’s water system.
“They monitor those little streams mainly for the purpose of supporting fisheries, making sure the fish can be healthy for their spawning period. They kind of have a different system for setting those levels than we do for our drought restrictions,” adds Miles.
Level 4 drought conditions, the highest rating, are determined by many factors, including regional stream flows, water storage capacity, ecological concerns, weather forecasts and impacts on water users.
Water conservation tips:
* 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 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
* Reduce non-essential water usage
* Recycle water used in industrial operations
* Use water-efficient methods and equipment