Drought level increased on west coast

·2 min read

The B.C. government has increased the drought level on the west coast to level 3 of 5.

Th East Vancouver Island region, which includes the Gulf Islands, West Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii regions all ticked up on Aug. 27 due to high temperatures, consistent sunshine and lack of recent rain creating an increase in water temperatures in many streams, the province said in a news release.

“Warmer water temperatures and the lack of precipitation may affect late summer fish-rearing conditions in streams and can affect the timing of salmon spawning migration. There have been reports of fish mortalities and strandings within the past month following heat warnings.”

Angling closures are in effect on most Vancouver Island streams until Aug. 31 at the earliest. Any fish strandings or mortalities should be reported to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline: 1-877-952-7277.

The province is calling on residents in affected areas to reduce water consumption where possible to protect stream health and fish habitat.

“In areas where voluntary water reduction has already been implemented, it has helped to slow down the intensification of drought conditions and the need for regulatory action,” the province said.

As of August 29, the RDN watering restrictions were set to stage 2 of 4, which permits lawn sprinklers, house and car washing, pressure washing and pool filling every other day. Electoral Area B does not fall under the RDN’s watering restriction jurisdiction, however.

The province has the power to take regulatory action under the Water Sustainability Act if conditions do not improve. Actions could include temporary protection orders issued to water licensees to avoid significant or irreversible harm to aquatic ecosystems.

The East Vancouver Island region entered the provincial drought level 2 on August 4. In 2021, the provincial government set the drought level to four on July 9.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder