It’s another scorching summer, and Islanders have to consider that this could be the new normal. Victoria has long been known for gloomy winters and Mediterranean summers, but our summers are getting more Mediterranean all the time. Those of us on the southern Island are cushioned from the effects of dry weather by the size of our water reservoir, which was raised in 2002. Elsewhere, however, the weeks of hot, dry weather are clearly visible in dropping river levels.
This week, the province issued a level-three drought warning for the coast from Alaska to the Lower Mainland, including Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii and the Gulf Islands.
In rivers such as the Koksilah, Chemainus, San Juan and Salmon, water levels are already getting low enough to threaten fish — and it’s only the beginning of August.
If water levels fall much lower, it’s likely that some rivers will be closed to fishing.
In Greater Victoria, we dutifully follow watering restrictions, though we grump about it when the reservoir is at 80 per cent.
But water discipline, which is a way of life in California, can make a difference. Learning it before we need it will stand us in good stead if things get worse.
We have evidence that individual and community action make a difference. When farmers voluntarily reduced the amount of water they used in 2017, the levels in the Koksilah River rose.
For generations, we have been spoiled by abundant water on the West Coast. Now, watering restrictions are a normal part of summer life, and low-flow toilets are becoming standard throughout the capital region.
Changing our attitude to water will help us all in the long run.