As a result of prolonged dry conditions along the coast, the Skeena-Nass area of British Columbia is experiencing Level 3 hydrological drought conditions. The Level 3 designation calls for voluntary water-use reductions of 30 per cent from all surface water and groundwater users, including municipal, agricultural, and industrial users.
Ministry staff are closely monitoring river and well levels and may upgrade the drought level if the weather continues to have a negative effect on stream flows and water supply. Residential, agricultural, and industrial users within municipalities and the regional district are encouraged to observe local water conservation bylaws.
Water users are also encouraged 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 to spawning grounds, increase susceptibility to disease, or cause stranding or death due to low oxygen and high water temperatures.
Should conditions continue to deteriorate, provincial water managers may exercise their authority to temporarily suspend authorized water usage in affected watersheds and aquifers.
The new Water Sustainability Act contains new tools to manage water use during times of scarcity, including authority for all households to access a basic amount of water for essential household needs, protection of crucial environmental flows for fish and ecosystems, and regulation of groundwater withdrawals that may affect streamflows.
Many communities in B.C. are prepared to deal with water supply shortages and low streamflow conditions by drought management plans and water conservation programs that are already in place.