The province has announced increased drought ratings for two watersheds in the Interior.
The updates follow a news release last week warning of low flows across the Thompson-Okanagan and asking people to reduce water consumption.
The first to be upgraded is the Salmon River watershed in Salmon Arm, which was increased to a level three drought rating due to dropping water levels, according to a media release from the provincial government. People in that area are being called on to voluntarily reduce water use by 30 per cent.
“Low water levels in the Salmon River are of particular concern because adult chinook salmon have recently migrated into the river in preparation for spawning. Spawning chinook will be in the river through the month of September,” states the release.
READ MORE: Thompson-Okanagan residents urged to conserve water
Meanwhile, the Coldwater watershed in Brookmere, just south of Merritt, has been upgraded to a level four drought rating because conditions are extremely dry and flows have dropped to critical flow thresholds for fish populations, including juvenile steelhead, coho and chinook salmon, which are currently in the river system, according to the release.
“With continued warm, dry weather in the forecast, river flows are expected to continue to drop. In order to protect fish populations, the Province is asking for maximum voluntary reduction of withdrawals in the Coldwater watershed,” states the release.
Water users in both systems are also reminded to ensure that water intakes are screened to prevent fish from being pulled into water systems as water levels drop.
“Low water levels can impede the passage of salmon, increase susceptibility to disease, or cause stranding or death due to low oxygen and high water temperatures,” the release says.
Local water conservation bylaws may differ from provincial water conservation targets, due to local water supply and demand, and the availability of storage (lakes and reservoirs) or groundwater. Residential, agricultural and industrial water users who are located within municipalities and regional districts are encouraged to observe local water conservation bylaws where they exist.
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