Province urges water conservation on Vancouver Island

Long dry summer expected to take a toll on already reduced water supplies

With the forecast for the weekend expected to be hot and possibly record breaking, the province is calling on West Shore residents to do their part to conserve water and cut back on their consumption.

As a significant number of streams and rivers on the Island are experiencing very low flows compared to last year, all Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands residents are being asked to cut down on their voluntary water use.

Although the Capital Region is in better shape than other areas due to its large reservoir, the province did note the southern portion of the Island is an area of particular concern.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is predicting the region will experience significant water shortages in 2016 unless there is substantial precipitation between now and the end of June. Ministry staff are closely monitoring river levels and may upgrade the drought level if stream flows and water supplies continue to drop.

Partial or complete closures of streams for recreational fisheries could also come into effect. Low water levels can prevent salmon from reaching spawning grounds increase their susceptibility to disease or cause death due to low oxygen and higher water temperatures.

Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands are already experiencing Level 3 drought conditions, which call for the voluntary water use reduction of 30 per cent from all municipal, agricultural and industrial users.

If Level 4 drought conditions are reached (the highest rating) provincial water managers may temporarily suspend authorized water usage in affected watersheds and aquifers.

On May 29, the Sooke Lake Resorvoir was just over 90 per cent full but had only seen about 60 per cent of the monthly average rainfall for May. Last year, Level 4 conditions were declared on Vancouver Island on July 4 and Level 3 conditions were declared for the region on June 8.

For more information on affected streams and in-season fishing regulation changes go to env.gov.bc.ca/fw/fish/regulations/. More information and photos of the Sooke Lake Reservoir can be found at crd.bc.ca/about/data/sooke-lake-reservoir.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

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