The B.C. government has announced a Level 3 drought rating for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
The heightened alert means a call for voluntary water-use reductions for all surface and groundwater users, including farmers, local governments and residents alike.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District had been under Level 2 (dry) drought conditions for roughly four days before the provincial government upgraded the entire province to Level 3 (very dry).
“I would encourage everybody in the region to follow the recommendations that have come out from the province that have to do with drought level 3 in terms of voluntary water conservation regardless of which system you’re on,” said CVRD spokesperson Kris Schumacher on Friday.”
At home that means limiting your outdoor watering, taking shorter showers, not leaving the tap running and watering when it’s cooler out and when it’s not windy. Water efficient appliances and drought-tolerant vegetation are also helpful.
In general, at home, on farms and in industry, the reduction of water use and use of water-efficient equipment will go a long way to conservation.
“We’ve had a Stage 1 water restriction in place since May 1 and that is still in effect and we are currently coordinating with our municipal partners and other water utilities about going to a Stage 2 water restriction for next week which would be pretty typical for the drought level that we’re at,” Schumacher said. “But, given the severity of how dry things are right now and what the forecast looks like, we could be seeing even greater restrictions later in the summer if we don’t get some significant rainfall here.”
According to a provincial press release, “If voluntary reductions of water use are insufficient to maintain flows above critical levels, the Province may consider regulating water usage under the Water Sustainability Act. Specific actions could include temporarily suspending water licences or short-term water approvals to restore flows to minimum critical levels in the affected streams.”
Schumacher said to check newnormalcowichan.ca for up to date environmental conditions and to see what restrictions are in place in the area you live.
“It is kind of our one-stop shop for all information about drought levels and water restrictions,” he explained. “All of the municipalities and water utilities including Stz’uminus and Cowichan First Nations are contributing their water restriction data to us so regardless of where you live within the Cowichan region, you can go there and, very easily by clicking where you are on the map, find out which water restrictions are applicable to you. There’s some pretty easy to interpret tables that show you exactly what those restrictions mean.”
The time to act is now.
“I think everybody can get a sense of what it is when you look at your local river or creek and see how dry things are. Sometimes even with that, you can’t see what’s really happening underneath that and how severe it can be in terms of groundwater levels,” Schumacher noted. “We don’t want to get to a situation in the summer where there’s actually areas that are out of water. It’s good to conserve now in an effort to make sure there’s enough until we get back to the wet season again.”