Okanagan drought level rises again; more water restrictions coming | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan drought level rises again; more water restrictions coming

Vaseux Creek is nothing but a dry bed right now. It's already in a level 5 drought.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Okanagan Basin Water Board
August 14, 2021 - 10:00 AM

Residents and water suppliers are being asked to clamp down even tighter on water usage as the provincial government says the Okanagan is now at drought level four.

The province raised the drought level today because of the “unprecedented dry and hot conditions in British Columbia’s southern interior.”

The province rates drought levels from 1 to the most severe at 5, where impacts on socioeconomic systems or ecosystems are “almost certain.”

READ MORE: Drought triggers more watering rules in Okanagan; Kamloops sticks with regular summer restrictions

The Okanagan Basin Water Board has Vaseux Creek, in the South Okanagan, already at a level 5. It’s urging residents to inspect and adjust irrigation systems to reduce watering.

The provincial government is asking local water purveyors to conserve water, residents to abide local water restrictions and some licence holders reduce their take by half. Local municipalities and irrigation districts are expected to respond with new measures as a result of the drought level.

While they are looking for voluntary compliance, enforcement may be coming, the Ministry of Natural Resources said in a release.

"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. Provincial staff are monitoring the situation and working to balance water uses with environmental flow needs.”

The province has already curtailed recreational fishing on many streams in the area where water temperatures and low flows are threatening fish.

Water for firefighting is exempt.

Find out more about the province's drought and response here.

READ MORE: Southern Interior wildfire fighters can’t even catch a break at night

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