NEWS

Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii on alert for drought conditions

06/10/2015 01:21 EDT | Updated 06/09/2016 05:59 EDT
Water experts are warning of drought-like conditions in Metro Vancouver this summer, and parts of the province are already on high alert. 

With record-low snow packs, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources says Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii can expect serious water shortages unless significant rainfall comes by the end of June. 

B.C.'s water stewardship manager Valerie Cameron says those areas have been designated as very dry, or level three on the province's drought levels gauge system. That is just one level shy of the worst drought conditions and it is the earliest the province has designated the regions to level three conditions this early in the year. 

"Weather is really going to be the wildcard for us in the coming months," she says. 

"We can't do anything to manage the natural environment of course, so we're really going to have to emphasize water conservation, community effort, and industry effort to try to manage water supplies the best we can to carry us through to the fall."

Lower Mainland not far behind

All users of water in those areas, including farms and industry, are asked to voluntarily cut water use by 20 per cent. The province has the power to order industrial users to curtail water use, or suspend water licences, when drought conditions reach stage four.

While Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria do have large water reservoirs, Cameron says people need to obey local watering rules and restrictions.

"The Lower Mainland area and Lower Fraser [area] and the Southern Interior are not that far behind.  They're drought level two, but we're evaluating them, and they may be going up to level three shortly."

Currently the three reservoirs at Coquitlam, Seymour and Capilano are at 91 per cent capacity, which is typical for this time of year.

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