B.C.'s drought: Further water restrictions likely

"Gone are the days of being able to run your tap for as long as possible."

B.C.’s forests minister says dry conditions and warm weather in the forecast will likely spur wildfire activity in parts of the province.

And further water restrictions, for homeowners and industry, could be on the cards if drought conditions prevail.

Bruce Ralston said officials are keeping a close eye on the northeast, in particular. The updated drought information portal shows areas in the Peace Region are ranked at the top two levels of B-C's drought scale.

Nathan Cullen, the minister for water, land and resource stewardship, said the province is facing a "serious" situation with the potential for continued drought.

He said every drop of water counts, and he's asking residents to take steps to conserve heading into the summer months.

With many parts of the province experiencing warmer weather and British Columbia forecast to have an active wildfire season, the Province is introducing an interactive Emergency Ready Planner to help people create an emergency and evacuation plan for their family.

This is part of a suite of new-and-improved tools released during Emergency Preparedness Week to help keep people safe through wildfires, drought, floods and earthquakes:

* the Emergency Ready Planner, an online, interactive tool to help people create a personalized emergency and evacuation plan;

* major upgrades to the BC Wildfire Service app to better connect people to the latest wildfire and fire ban information; and

* updates to the Drought Information Portal to better inform people about drought levels and watershed conditions around the province.

"Being prepared and feeling ready starts with having a plan," Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, said during a media conference Thursday. “We encourage everyone to make an emergency and evacuation plan, and the new tools launched today make planning easier and will help people stay safe."

Ma said all water users could face restrictions.

"There may be questions about large industrial users. No one gets a free pass on this," she said. "Those companies, those industries, they are regulated and will be affected if necessary."

But she said the cumulative effort of households is also important.

"Gone are the days of being able to run your tap for as long as possible without a thought in the world to water conservation."

Kelowna is already on Stage 1 water restrictions, limiting home irrigation to three days a week. West Kelowna has moved to Stage 2, which means watering only twice a week.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre says there are 90 fires burning right now, but the situation is better than it was a year ago.

The risk of wildfires is high in the west, with almost 50 per cent of the fires burning in Alberta and 30 per cent in British Columbia.

Seven are listed as out-of-control.

Officials warn ongoing drought conditions mean the risk of damaging wildfires is significant, and note that the pattern of months of warmer-than-average weather is expected to continue.

With files from The Canadian Press

Published 2024-05-09 by Glenn Hicks

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