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It's that time of year again.

Warm, dry temperatures have prompted the province to announce a Level 3 drought for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

Drought Level 3 indicates very dry conditions that could "potentially serious ecosystem or socio-economic impacts," according to the province.

It means homeowners, municipalities, farmers and industries are being asked to scale down voluntary water use.

Several crucial salmon streams are closely approaching critical flow thresholds, B.C.'s forest ministry said in a statement, which is bad news for juvenile trout and salmon and the surrounding ecosystems. 

While a few streams are backed by storage reservoirs, environmental conditions are being closely monitored to ensure the safety of the fish, the ministry said.

If voluntary water cutbacks aren't enough to keep flows above critical levels, the province may regulate usage under the Water Sustainability Act. 

That could mean temporarily suspending water licences or short-term water approvals until streams are again flowing at a healthy rate. 

Varying levels of water restrictions are in effect in regions across Vancouver Island. Stage 1 restrictions are in effect in Greater Victoria and the Comox Valley, Stage 2 restrictions are in effect for the Regional District of Nanaimo and much of the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

while Stage 2 restrictions are in effect for Comox Valley, the Regional District of Nanaimo and in the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

The province is also reminding water users on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands to ensure water intakes are screened to Fisheries and Oceans Canada standards to prevent fish from being sucked into water systems as levels decrease. 

The ministry has a few recommendations on how homeowners can conserve water:

  • Limit outdoor watering
  • Don't water during the heat of the day or when it's windy
  • Consider planting drought-tolerant plants
  • Take shorter showers
  • Don't leave the tap running
  • Install water efficient shower heads, taps and toilets

On farms:

  • Use an irrigation scheduling program using real-time weather data
  • Schedule irrigation to match crop needs and soil capacity
  • Check water systems for leaks
  • Focus on high-value crops and livestock

In industry:

  • Reduce non-essential water use
  • Recycle water
  • Use water efficient methods