With drought conditions affecting river flow all around the Thompson Okanagan area, fish population protection orders are being enacted.
These orders are to protect spawning chinook salmon in the lower Salmon River and Bessette Creek area by temporarily restricting water use for forage crops.
Both areas have seen persistent low stream flows that are threatening the survival of chinook populations as they enter their annual migration season.
The orders come into effect immediately, on Wednesday, Aug. 16. Approximately 398 surface and groundwater licence holders in the lower Salmon River and Bessette Creek area must stop using water to forage crops which include grass for hay alfalfa and forage corn.
The order does not apply to water diverted and used for non-forage crops like market vegetables, livestock watering or domestic purposes. It also does not apply to water users that are supplied by a water utility supported by water storage. The order may be revoked if water flows recover.
Irrigation of forage crops is one of the most water-intensive agricultural water uses. This order falls under the Water Sustainability Act’s purpose of avoiding significant or irreversible harm to aquatic ecosystems.
For more information, visit gov.bc.ca/gov/content/drought.