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‘Come prepared, bring water’: B.C.’s Gulf Islands suffering drought-like conditions

Click to play video: 'Gulf Islands suffering drought-like conditions'
Gulf Islands suffering drought-like conditions
Peter Luckham, from the Saltspring Island Trust, is warning that the water levels are abnormally low for this time of year on the gold islands, which means tourists may need to be self-sustaining with their own drinking water supply when visiting. – Jul 13, 2021

The recent hot dry weather has led to serious water shortages on B.C.’s Gulf Islands.

Peter Luckham of the Islands Trust Council said water levels in reservoirs and lakes and ponds are quite low for this time of year.

Freshwater shortages have been an issue on the islands for years as the majority of the water supply comes from rainfall.

Luckham said visitors to the islands will see a lot of messaging around water conservation.

Click to play video: 'Salt Spring Island votes ‘no’ to becoming a municipality'
Salt Spring Island votes ‘no’ to becoming a municipality

“Come prepared, bring water,” Luckham said. “I know we all want to drink fresh potable water out of the tap, but unfortunately, bottled water is going to be, I think, the norm for the summer.”

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“Boaters, if you can be self-sustained with water supply on your boats, that is terrific. Even visitors, you’ll want to bring some of your own water [to] places that you may be going to or even your cabins where you’ll be visiting.”

Salt Spring Island could have to move to Stage 4 watering restrictions, which would mean water use in homes only at specific hours, for the first time since 2015.

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Authorities say they are looking at how to improve the management of water levels but note they cannot apply for provincial grants as improvement districts cannot receive direct funding.

“We don’t want to be in this position,” Michael McAllister, board chair of North Salt Spring Waterworks District, said. “That heat wave really knocked us all for a loop. But the good news is it really facilitated discussion on [how] we can’t just crisis manage all the time. We need to be able to look at intermediate and long-term options in a meaningful way.”

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