Drought forces more water restrictions for irrigation users in Thompson-Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Drought forces more water restrictions for irrigation users in Thompson-Okanagan

FILE PHOTO - Salmon work their way upstream at Adams River.
August 20, 2021 - 1:13 PM

With the southern Interior in a drought, new water restriction orders are in place for two areas in the Thompson Okanagan region to protect salmon migrations.

These restrictions will affect water licensees and groundwater users in the Salmon River and Bessette Creek areas, according to a press release issued by the province.

The restrictions are in effect today until Sept. 30. Affected water users will be contacted directly with a copy of a signed order and must cease irrigation operations including for tributaries and hydraulically connected aquifers. These restriction orders do not apply to domestic water use or livestock watering or for users that are supplied by a water utility supported by water storage, according to the province.

"These restrictions are required to reduce the strain on aquatic life in these systems and restore the flow volumes required to ensure the survival of culturally and economically important aquatic species, like salmon," according to the province. "Current drought conditions are especially challenging for the returning runs of chinook salmon, which are designated as endangered."

The order may be revoked if water flows return to low-flow levels on a sustained basis or it is evident that a successful chinook migration has been achieved.

This regulatory action falls under the Water Sustainability Act’s purpose of avoiding significant or irreversible harm to aquatic ecosystems. Provincial staff are monitoring the situation and working to balance water uses with environmental flow needs, according to the province.

Note that water used to extinguish a fire or contain and control the spread of a fire remains exempt by provisions under the Water Sustainability Act, so these orders will not apply to water that is used to control the spread of wildfires. However, people under an evacuation order due to wildfire must leave the area immediately, according to the province.

Incidents of suspected non-compliance with the order can be reported to the province’s Report All Poachers and Polluters line at 1 877 952-7277 or online.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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