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EDITORIAL: Planning needed as droughts become more frequent

Much of British Columbia at Drought Level 4 and 5
Air tankers lay fire retardant on the Eagle Bluff wildfire on Sunday, July 30. (Sandy Steck contributed photo)

As the summer continues, the hot, dry weather is taking its toll on the province.

At present, drought conditions are noticeable and two-thirds of the province is in Drought Level 4 and 5.

These are the most severe of the province’s six categories which range from Drought Level 0, where conditions are average or wetter than normal, to Drought Level 5, where conditions are exceptionally dry and adverse impacts to socio-economic or ecosystem values are almost certain.

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Some communities have stepped up their water use restrictions to cope with the drought and to conserve water resources. In other communities, municipal staff are monitoring their reservoir levels to determine if they will need to implement watering restrictions.

As the drought continues, increased restrictions could have a devastating effect on agriculture, water quality, water supply and the environment.

While this year’s drought conditions are severe, they are not unprecedented. British Columbia has had other dry years, with severe droughts recorded in 1929, 1931 and 1955.

However, this year is the fourth year in the past 20 to have significant drought conditions. The other recent dry years were 2003, 2009 and 2015.

When dry conditions are becoming frequent, it is important to take action and to develop response plans.

This spring, the province released its British Columbia Drought and Water Scarcity Response Plan. This 54-page document examines drought indicators as well as provincial and regional response plans. Such strategies are needed this year, and will likely be needed in the years to come.

Drought conditions are happening more frequently than in the past and as a result, planning is more important than ever before.

— Black Press

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About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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