Residents asked to conserve water as Okanagan moves to Drought Level 3

A map showing B.C.’s drought levels on July 11, 2023. Province of B.C.

The Okanagan has joined the Similkameen and Boundary regions in being listed at Drought Level 3.

The province moved the Okanagan into the middle zone of its five-scale rating on July 6. Being in the third zone – severely dry — means adverse impacts to socioeconomic or ecosystem values are possible.

The Similkameen region was moved into Drought Level 3 on June 8, with the Boundary region joining it on June 15.

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“In the Okanagan, record-setting warm temperatures this spring resulted in an early freshet. Precipitation has also been lower than average in many areas this year,” said the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB).

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“While the scattered showers and cooler temperatures in June gave some reprieve, it was not enough to overcome the precipitation deficit from previous months.”

The OBWB says many streamflows are at the lower end of their range for this time period, and that water temperatures are also increasing, which can be lethal for fish.

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Of note, B.C.’s drought-level rating uses different indicators than local watering restrictions.

“Everyone is responsible to do their part to conserve water and reduce the risk of negatively affecting the environment and other water users,” said the OBWB.

“People and businesses in affected areas should reduce water use wherever possible and observe all watering restrictions from their water purveyor.”

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