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Some B.C. regions at Drought Level 4 as water scarcity affects the province

VICTORIA — Little to no rainfall over the past five weeks in several areas of British Columbia has prompted a warning from the Ministry of Forests about drought.
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High tide rolls in as a Parks Canada employee looks over the clam bed restoration while on a Salish sea garden tour on Russell Island, a 32-acre Gulf Island National Park near in Salt Spring Island, B.C., Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022. The Ministry of Forests says Vancouver Island, the inner south coast and the northeast corner of British Columbia have reached the second-most severe level of drought on a five-point rating scale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

VICTORIA — Little to no rainfall over the past five weeks in several areas of British Columbia has prompted a warning from the Ministry of Forests about drought. 

The ministry says Vancouver Island, the inner south coast and the northeast corner of the provincehave reached the second-most severe level of drought on a five-point rating scale.

A statement from the ministry says those regions are ranked at Drought Level 4, meaning conditions are extremely dry and will likely have unfavourable impacts on everything from jobs to ecosystems.

Much of the Peace region, a stretch of the eastern Pacific range from the Skagit Valley north to Merritt and the Pemberton areas, as well as the Kettle River basin north of Grand Forks are all ranked at Drought Level 3.

The statement says all water users in areas covered by drought levels 3 and 4 are urged to reduce water use and if conservation measures don't show results or drought conditions worsen, water licensees may be ordered to scale back their operations.

Water licensees in B.C. are allowed to use groundwater for non-domestic purposes, such as irrigation, commercial or industrial uses, but the ministry says the Water Sustainability Act permits it to alter those licences "to avoid significant or irreversible harm to aquatic ecosystems." 

"Provincial staff are monitoring the situation and working to balance water use with environmental flow needs," the ministry statement says. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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