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Early summer-like conditions and record-low water levels have forced the Cowichan Valley to elevate its drought level.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District said it's experiencing drought conditions not usually seen until mid-to-late summer, which meet or exceed provincial criteria for Drought Level 2.

“While summer drought is very much the new normal for the Cowichan Valley, the warm temperatures and lack of rain we’ve had year-to-date is of significant concern,” said CVRD environmental services manager Kate Miller.

Miller said three wells are at "record-low" levels and the region is already rapidly approaching Drought Level 3 conditions.

Drought has also led to record-low levels in the Cowichan Watershed.

"Salmon fry salvage that normally takes place mid-summer is already underway as lake and river tributaries dry up," the district said.

Flows at Cowichan Lake has been slowed down to 4.5 cubic metres as a result.

It's expected that water will need to be pumped over the lake's weir, which controls outflow into the Cowichan River, by early August.

Other island cities including Nanaimo are encouraging residents to cut back on water usage while BC Hydro does what It can to conserve water flows.

"We're setting records every year in terms of extreme wet or dry and this spring's been very dry," BC Hydro spokesman Stephen Watson told CTV News on Thursday.

The Cowichan Valley is currently under Stage 1 watering restrictions, which limit the times sprinkling is allowed to even dates for even-numbered houses and odd dates for odd-numbered houses.