B.C. hosting 30 workshops to help farmers prepare for summer droughts

Click to play video: 'B.C. snowpack levels extremely low: data'
B.C. snowpack levels extremely low: data
RELATED VIDEO: While B.C. has seen snow this week recent data shows the snowpack is extremely low. As Global's Troy Charles reports, the unusual trend for this time of year is prompting concerns of significant drought in the spring – Jan 13, 2024

Drought conditions have significant impacts on communities around the province, specifically for farmers who are extremely dependent on water and water management.

To help B.C. farmers, the province is hosting more than 30 in-person workshops in different communities including in the Interior, Cariboo, Kootenays, Lower Mainland, Peace region and Vancouver Island areas.

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Extreme drought a ‘sleeping giant’ climate disaster

These workshops will help producers” improve their irrigation systems, explore options for on-site water storage and how to better manage water during times of scarcity.”

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According to the province, different drought management aspects farmers can practice are:

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  • Crop selection and management
  • Fertilizer management under drought conditions
  • How to assess your soil water storage capacity
  • Irrigation management when water supplies are short
  • Livestock management

The government will also provide an overview of the financial support available to prepare for and reduce the impacts of drought, as well as information about water management under the Water Sustainability Act.

The first Agricultural Water Management Workshops are scheduled for Feb. 15 in Cobble Hill and Feb. 16 in Port Alberni. A workshop in Penticton is also scheduled for Feb. 16 and 17 at the Southern Interior Horticultural Show. The workshops are free, though registration is required. More dates and information can be read online.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Food also funds on-farm projects for drought and other extreme-weather events, as well as providing crop insurance and income protection programs to help farms with crop losses and revenue declines.

On Thursday, the province released its latest update on B.C.’s snowpack.

B.C.’s average snowpack is almost 40 per cent lower than normal, raising concerns about what Premier David Eby says are “some of the most dramatic drought conditions that have been seen in our lifetime.”

The province’s latest snow bulletin says levels remain “very low” at 61 per cent of normal, compared to 79 per cent of normal this time last year.

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The bulletin shows the snowpack is especially sparse across the South Coast, ranging from 30 per cent of normal on Vancouver Island to 47 per cent in the Lower Fraser region.

The Stikine region in northwestern B.C. has the highest snowpack in the province at 90 per cent of the average. Eby says he’s “really worried” about the coming summer, and the only thing that “eclipses” his concern about drought is watching atmospheric rivers of rain sweep over California, causing landslides and flooding that have killed several people.

— with files from the Canadian Press

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