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South Cariboo residents asked to conserve water

While the Cariboo’s water supply is stable drought conditions are still a cause for concern
The Bridge Creek Falls are still going strong as 100 Mile House enters a drought. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

As drought conditions worsen across the province, South Cariboo residents are being advised to conserve water.

On July 13, Emergency Minister Bowinn Ma said the public should brace for additional water restrictions as the province faces what could become an unprecedented drought. These conditions come after the hottest May on record across B.C., as well as the earliest melt of the mountain snowpack.

“We are anticipating a very serious drought season that will require action from everyone,” Ma said. “That likely means every industry, every business, every individual across the province.”

100 Mile House and most of the South Cariboo north of 93 Mile are currently under a Level 4 drought measure on the drought map. This means that adverse impacts from the drought on socio-economic and economic systems are likely.

While this is concerning, Cariboo Regional District communications manager Gerald Pinchbeck said the CRD isn’t imposing any widespread restrictions on water use at this time. Most of the CRD’s water systems rely on underground aquifers rather than surface water, insulating them from the drought.

“All of our water systems are sourced from deep water wells. We don’t draw from surface water so our supply is more stable and more drought resilient,” Pinchbeck said. “That being said, we are encouraging residents to conserve water as much as they can.”

Pinchbeck listed several ways South Cariboo residents can conserve water. This includes limiting sprinkler use, taking shorter showers, handwashing your dishes and flushing your toilet less.

“Small actions taken by an entire community will have large impacts, and we are asking residents to do their part in creating that change by making small changes to their daily routine.”

He noted that the CRD also implements water conservation policies as a general practice from May to October, and encourages the public to check the CRD website for details on water restrictions in their area.

“We’re not expecting any further challenges to our water supply. If there are any further risks to our water supply or our water system we will notify residents of that change,” Pinchbeck said.

Many communities have already implemented water restrictions, and the province will be appealing to communities to escalate their drought response plan and their water restrictions, Ma said.

“We prefer to work with communities to implement those restrictions (and) bring the public along so that they understand why it is that these restrictions are needed. However, at the same time, we are actively looking at possible (provincial) orders for water licensees.”

A survey of the latest drought map, which offers a general picture of the province, underscores the seriousness of the issue. Four out of B.C.’s 34 water basins have reached Level 5 — the highest level — on the provincial drought scale, meaning that adverse impacts to socio-economic or ecosystem values are almost certain.

The affected areas include all of Vancouver Island, the Skeena region, and the northeastern corner of B.C. Another 18 basins — including the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Sunshine Coast — are at Level 4, where impacts are likely.

“While it is not uncommon for British Columbians to face droughts, the level and extent that we’re witnessing this early is deeply concerning,” Ma said.

With files from Lauren Collins and Wolf Depner.

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Patrick Davies

About the Author: Patrick Davies

An avid lover of theatre, media, and the arts in all its forms, I've enjoyed building my professional reputation in 100 Mile House.
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