A few late summer rainfall events have not masked the drought-level conditions persisting in the West Kootenay region, according to the latest data from the province.
Water sources overall across the region are still designated Level 4 — a severe drought designation — from the BC River Forecast Centre (BCRFC) as hot and dry weather has continued to impact the West Kootenay.
The BCRFC stated that concerns about water supply security, drought and water scarcity remain an issue for most of the southern half of British Columbia — including Nelson and the West Kootenay — even as cooler temperatures and rain have arrived.
“(The) dry conditions and water scarcity in the southwest Interior continue to intensify as precipitation systems are predicted to bypass these areas,” read the latest report from the BCRFC.
The forecasted slightly above-normal temperatures leading into the beginning of September will likely influence drought conditions as well, the report added.
Closer to home
According to the data, drought Level 5 conditions persist at the Anderson Creek reporting station near Nelson, as it recorded 10 per cent of its median flow.
BCRFC ranks drought levels from zero to five, with drought Level 5 rated as the most severe, with “adverse impacts to socioeconomic or ecosystem values being almost certain.”
Anderson Creek may be low but the primary water source for the city is Five Mile Creek — located in the West Arm Wilderness Park — with Anderson and Selous Creek serving as its secondary seasonal sources.
Even so, the city has clamped down and decreed stage three watering restrictions — which began in late June — for Nelsonites to limit usage and conserve the volume obtained from its primary source.
With the entire West Kootenay region — including Nelson, Castlegar, Trail and the Slocan Valley — still beset by bare bones moisture in the ground, the Boundary region served by the Kettle River is worse and is entrenched in Level 5 drought conditions.
Unhook the hooks
Many freshwater angling closures are in place throughout B.C. due to increased stress to fish from low flows and high water temperatures.
But there is some good news on the local front in Region 4. On Aug. 26 the province re-opened fishing on previously closed streams, including: Michel Creek (excluding Alexander Creek and its tributaries), Morrissey Creek, Lizard Creek, Coal Creek, Sand Creek and the St. Mary River (from the outlet of St. Mary Lake to its confluence with the Kootenay River), and all streams in management units 4-3 to 4-9 (except the main stem of the Columbia and Kootenay rivers).
As of Aug. 30, temporary protection orders have been issued for the Koksilah River, West Kettle, Bessette Creek and the Salmon River.
The Nelson water flow situation contrasts with the rest of the nearby region.
To the northwest a reporting station on the Slocan River near Crescent Valley reported 74 per cent of its median flow (drought level two).
Heading east the situation improves immensely, with Duhamel Creek at drought level one (90 per cent of median flow), Redfish Creek near Harrop is 93 per cent of median flow (drought level zero) and Lemon Creek in mid-Slocan Valley at 129 per cent of median flow (drought level zero).
• BC River Forecast Centre map of the region:
• Anderson Creek station seven-day flow and historical data: