Today’s Poll

Drought-like conditions begin to creep up on city’s water supply

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
July 17th, 2023

One of the city’s water sources is flowing at well below normal, according to provincial forecasters, or less than 10 per cent of its stream flow percentile rating.

The B.C. Drought Information Portal is showing Anderson Creek at a current level of .06 metres — with a current flow rate of .03 cubic metres per second — well below the normal current level of .14 m (.09 m3/sec), according to historical data.

Throughout the West Kootenay drought conditions edged upward into the Drought Level 4 region (on a zero to five scale), meaning adverse impacts on communities and ecosystems are likely.

Anderson Creek is considered a secondary source of water for the city, with Five Mile Creek — located in the West Arm Provincial Park beyond Svoboda townsite in upper Fairview — being the primary source. The city also uses Selous Creek at Ymir Road as another secondary source.

Despite the low flows and continued hot and dry conditions, the city is still in stage one water restrictions with lawn watering, trees, shrubs and vegetable or flower garden watering being restricted (see tps://www.nelson.ca/378/Water-Restrictions for more information).

As drought conditions worsen, with unprecedented levels of drought being observed in British Columbia this early in the season, people and businesses are urged to prioritize water conservation.

As of July 13, four of B.C.’s 34 water basins are at Drought Level 5: Fort Nelson, Bulkley Lake, West Vancouver Island and East Vancouver Island. There are 18 water basins at Drought Level 4 — including the West Kootenay — meaning more than two-thirds of these basins are in level 4 or 5.

“Provincial staff are monitoring the situation and working to balance water use with environmental flow needs,” noted the report from B.C. Drought Information. “Data is reviewed weekly to support the determination of drought levels.”

Nelson uses an average 2,500,000 cubic metres of water a year, with  peak usage occurring between June and August (City of Nelson).

A dry plan

With the activation of the B.C. Drought and Water Scarcity Response Plan in April 2023, area-specific drought response plans are under development with First Nations, local authorities, licensees and stakeholders.

The Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness is helping communities with their water-scarcity response planning through the release of an emergency water-scarcity planning template and a water-demand survey tool.

In addition to supporting community drinking-water plans, a program is in place so the Province can reimburse First Nations and local authorities for the costs of transporting drinking water and desalinization when needed.

Additionally, the Province will be releasing a Water Scarcity Dashboard in the coming weeks. The dashboard is intended for First Nations and local authorities to help with their forecasting, modelling and decision-making for water supply and demand concerns.

If conservation measures do not achieve sufficient results and drought conditions worsen, temporary protection orders under the Water Sustainability Act may be issued to water licensees to avoid significant or irreversible harm to aquatic ecosystems.

Source: B.C. Drought Information Portal

Life by the drop

The Province is encouraging people to begin water conservation now.

Indoor water conservation tips:

• Reduce personal water use, such as taking shorter showers.

• If washing dishes by hand, fill the sink, rather than letting the water run freely.

• Instead of running the tap, keep a jug of cool water in the fridge.

• Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or shaving.

• Regularly check your home for leaks. Undetected leaks in your home can waste many litres of water each year.

• Run full loads of laundry and full loads in the dishwasher.

Outdoor water conservation tips:

• Water lawns sparingly.

• Water things, such as gardens, in the morning or evening to reduce evaporation.

• Clean the driveway with a broom instead of a hose.

• Check for leaks in outdoor pipes, faucets and hoses.

• Talk to a local nursery or garden supplies centre about drought-tolerant plants.

• Use rain barrels to collect rainwater for outdoor plant use.

• If you have a swimming pool, consider a water-saving pool filter.

Source: Province of B.C.

Categories: General

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