Conditions remain very dry in the Cariboo Chilcotin according to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource, and Rural Development.
The Middle Fraser has recorded a Drought Level 3 since August 23, 2018.
Water stewardship manager Valerie Cameron says it is unusual because this is the time of year where we would normally start to get our fall rains which would recharge the levels of streams, lakes, reservoirs, groundwater aquifers, and the moisture of soil.
“That is happening in the southern part of the province, in fact south of the Cariboo we were at drought levels 2 and 3 and we dropped last week down to a level 1,” Cameron said.
“The thing that is kind of unusual is that the central and the north, and particularly the coast this year was very, very dry. The thing that is kind of most remarkable about where we’re at right now with drought, normally we’re winding down but we’re still at still at level 4 drought in the Stikine and Skeena-Nass.”
Cameron says that is very concerning with respect to fish populations as there might not be enough water for them to spawn.
If freeze-up in these regions occurs before streams, soil moisture and groundwater levels recharge, there is a risk of drought continuing into next year.
“That is another concern,” Cameron adds.
“Freeze up can occur anytime particularly in the north so if we’re starting in a deficit right now there won’t be any opportunity for any more water to infiltrate or percolate into the system. That means in the spring when everything starts to thaw we’ll be starting from a deficit situation.”
Level 3 drought conditions call for voluntary water-use reductions from surface-water and groundwater users including municipal, agricultural and industrial users. If voluntary reductions of water use are not sufficient to maintain flows above critical levels, the ministry according to a news release may consider regulating water usage under the Water Sustainability Act.
“Because the drought is happening fairly late in the season, the irrigation season is already over,” Cameron said.