Drought at Level 4, Valley fisheries closed

The province is putting residents on the highest drought alert and closing most streams and rivers to angling.

As a result of continued low rainfall and record-high temperatures in southern and eastern Vancouver Island, the province is putting residents on the highest drought alert and closing most streams and rivers to angling.

As of June 28, the province has upgraded the drought in the region to Level 4,  (extremely dry) and urge all water users to reduce their water consumption as much as possible.

The area covered by the Level 4 drought conditions extends from the north of Campbell River down the east coast of the Island through the Cowichan Valley and on to Victoria.

While residents in the Cowichan Valley Regional District have cut their water consumption by 30 per cent since Stage 2 water restrictions came into effect last month, CVRD board chairman Jon Lefebure said more work needs to be done in conserving local water resources as the drought becomes more severe.

He said the water being used by the CVRD’s 19 water utilities is 13 per cent higher than the provincial average.

The regional district is currently averaging 353.5 litres a day per person, compared to the provincial average of 311.9 litres a day per person.

The cooler weather and grey skies in recent weeks may be masking the severity of the drought.

Rainfall in April and May was less than 25 per cent of normal, and June has seen only 50 to 60 per cent of normal precipitation for the first half of the month, according to a press release from the CVRD.

“I encourage Cowichan Valley residents to continue their water conservation efforts,” said Lefebure.

“This conservation will help us protect our water resources as we enter the typically drier summer months.”

Meanwhile, the drought has lowered water levels and reduced flow in rivers and streams, which is prompting the province to close down the freshwater sports fishery across much of the southern Island, including in the Cowichan Valley, starting on July 1.

The fishing closures will remain in place until drought conditions improve significantly.