Residents urged to consider drought

Residents from one end of the Okanagan to the other are being warned about drought.

According to provincial officials, at least two Okanagan streams are experiencing low flows, Vaseux and Inkaneep creeks near Oliver.

“Streams backed by storage are doing OK,” said Corinne Jackson, Okanagan Basin Water Board communications director.

“After historic highs this spring, Kalamalka, Okanagan, and Osoyoos lakes are nearing average levels. Aquifers throughout the Okanagan are at, or above, historical averages.”

As of Tuesday, the provincial government has placed the entire Okanagan at a drought level of two.

“Drought level two calls for a voluntary 10 per cent reduction in water use, but the province acknowledges that most water users on municipal systems have water conservation bylaws that differ from provincial targets due to local water supply and demand, and the availability of storage,” said Jackson.

“Okanagan water purveyors are generally reporting normal supply conditions. We know of only two purveyors who have moved to higher restrictions. Kelowna has moved to stage one, not because their supply is insufficient (Okanagan Lake), but because their water system is running close to capacity due to high demand. Greater Vernon Water has moved to stage one because their Duteau Creek reservoir is below average.”

The province is asking licensees with upstream storage to follow the release schedule requirements in their licences to avoid potential instream flow issues.

“The forecast is for above normal temperatures into October. There is more uncertainty about precipitation, but as of July 31, conditions across Western Canada ranged from abnormally dry to extreme drought,” said Jackson.

“The OBWB, through its Okanagan WaterWise outreach and education program, has developed the Make Water Work campaign in partnership with Okanagan water utilities. Make Water Work is aimed at tackling the second largest use of water in our valley — residential outdoor use.”

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