Drought season is here, with severely dry conditions in several regions of the province.
Severely dry areas include the Okanagan, Shuswap, and Thompson-Nicola, according to the drought bulletin provided by the Okanagan Board Water Basin (OBWB) on July 15.
As a result of the warm and dry conditions, the Okanagan has been moved to a Level 3 drought, which could have adverse impacts on socio-economic or ecosystem values.
Generally, the response would be water conservation and local water usage restrictions.
The OBWB is advising water supplies to continue monitoring weather, reservoir and groundwater levels as well as customer demand to assess the appropriate restriction measures in each community.
“In the Okanagan, a warm, dry spring and an unprecedented heat wave in June has stressed water sources and infrastructure,” the OBWB said in the bulletin.
“Additionally, Okanagan and Kalamalka lakes did not reach “full pool” this year.”
The drought could be exacerbated by the lack of rain forecasted by Environment Canada.
As a result, the OBWB said that residential, agricultural and industrial water users should conserve water and abide by watering restrictions.
Water is needed for sufficient streamflow in creeks to help fish and other aquatic species thrive, firefighting efforts as wildfires continue to spark in the region, and of course, for agricultural purposes.
Drought conditions and an insufficient water supply could impede all three, which can have environmental and economic impacts on residents.
The OBWB’s Make Water Work conservation campaign is targeted towards the Okanagan’s second-largest use of water: outdoor residential irrigation.
The goal of the campaign is to encourage residents to use water wisely and to keep aquatic ecosystems, agriculture and firefighting top of mind as the drought sets in.