The provincial government announced on Saturday (Aug. 14) that they have increased the drought level in the Okanagan to a level four, due to what is described as “continued, unprecedented dry and hot conditions” in B.C.’s southern interior.
Under “extremely dry” drought level four conditions, the provincial government is asking licence holders who do not get their water from local water utilities to reduce water use by half.
“Water licence holders who get their water directly from one of the large lakes, or the Okanagan river channel are also being asked to conserve water,” said the provincial government.
B.C. ranks drought levels from zero to five, with drought level five being the most severe.
Drought level four conditions have also been applied to the West Kootenay, Lower Columbia, Okanagan, Thompson, Nicola, Lower Fraser, South Coast and Vancouver Island basins. Kettle Basin is currently experiencing “exceptionally dry” level five conditions.
General voluntary reduction of water usage is also being encouraged as the summer continues, from surface and groundwater in southern B.C.
“In areas where voluntary water reduction has already been implemented, it has helped to slow down the intensification of drought conditions and the need for regulatory action,” said the province.
All water users in affected areas are asked to reduce their water use wherever possible, and to observe watering restrictions issued by their local/regional governments, water utility providers or irrigation districts.
“If conservation measures do not achieve sufficient results and drought conditions worsen, regulatory action may be taken under the Water Sustainability Act, such as temporary protection orders issued to water licensees, to avoid significant or irreversible harm to aquatic ecosystems,” said the province.