Despite normal flows for many streams and Level 1 drought conditions elsewhere within the Nicola region, low flows in the Coldwater River system are nearing Level 4—extremely dry–drought conditions.
The Coldwater River is located in south central British Columbia, Canada. It is the largest tributary of the Nicola River, which it joins at the city of Merritt. The river drains a watershed of 917 square kilometres.
The Province is urging surface water and groundwater users within the Coldwater River system and Merritt municipal boundaries to voluntarily reduce consumption by 30 per cent, in accordance with the provincial BC Drought Response Plan.
Low flows on the Coldwater River are threatening chinook salmon, which are currently in the river system. With continued hot, dry weather in the forecast, river flows are expected to continue to drop. These low flows not only threaten spawning salmon, but all fish populations in the Coldwater system.
Ministry staff are closely monitoring river levels and may upgrade drought levels and consider regulation of water usage if the weather continues to have a negative effect on stream flows and water supply. Residential, agricultural, and industrial users within municipalities and regional districts are encouraged to observe local water conservation bylaws.
River system users are also encouraged to ensure that water intakes are screened to prevent fish from being pulled into water systems as flows drop. Low flows can impede the passage of salmon to spawning grounds, increase susceptibility to disease, cause stranding or death due to low oxygen and high water temperatures.