B.C.’s River Forecast Centre is asking residents and business owners to start curtailing water use, as drought conditions intensify across the province.
As of Friday, seven areas were at drought level 4, from southern Vancouver Island to the Kootenays.
An additional nine areas, including the Lower and Middle Fraser, were at drought level 3.
Local and regional governments make the formal rules around water usage, but the forecast centre manager George Roman said it would be prudent if people start altering their behaviour now.
“The southern part of B.C. has had little rain for a better part of five weeks now. We have dry weather in the forecast and don’t expect things to improve any time soon,” Roman said.
“I think, in the future, drought events like this will just be called summer, especially on the coast and in the Okanagan. You should limit your outdoor watering and follow all the local water restrictions.”
Nanaimo has gone 38 days without rain, a record for the city. Victoria was expected to soon break a a record for most days without rain as well.
The drought conditions are coming earlier in the year in many communities because of the dry spell, as well as record-breaking heat in late June and early July.
The Gulf Islands have asked tourists to bring their own water when visiting.
The Sunshine Coast Regional District put in place measures on Friday to reduce individual water consumption.
“We are not able to guarantee, with the current usage, the water supply to last to end of summer, early fall,” Remko Rosenboom, general manager of infrastructure services, said.
Ecologists are seeing low, and at some points historically low, water levels in creeks across the province.
The low levels are having an impact on wildlife. The province has put in some restrictions on fishing because some species are already stressed.
The temperature of local waterways is also going up.
“The organisms living there — if they are fish, amphibians, whatever may live there — they will have their habitat squeezed and what they have left will get warmer,” John Richardson, professor in the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences at UBC, said.