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Drought
Seasonal Drought

Drought is a recurrent feature of climate involving a deficiency of precipitation over an extended period of time, resulting in a water shortage. In British Columbia, drought may be caused by combinations of insufficient snow accumulation, hot and dry weather, or a delay in rainfall.

Summer drought is a recurring part of life in the Cowichan region. Residential, Government Agencies, Businesses, and Agriculture all have an important part to play to managing our water supply to help our economy and our ecosystem.

Effects of Drought

Drought conditions can affect communities and individuals in many different ways. Drought can lead to reduced water availability for household and business use. Lower streamflow may cause warmer river temperatures, affecting fish and other aquatic life. Low streamflow can also have an impact on groundwater levels.

Drought can reduce crop growth and quality, leading to smaller harvests. Hotter temperatures that often occur alongside drought may lead to early crop maturity or ripening. Less water may be available for irrigation and for animal care, and livestock production suffers and pests increase.

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Water Restrictions
Drought Level Classification
B.C. uses a six-level drought classification to explain the severity and appropriate level of response to drought conditions. The B.C. government’s ability to regulate water during drought is not dependent on an area’s drought level. Authorities can use the Water Sustainability Act, independent of an area’s drought level, to deal with conflicts and concerns in a single water source or with significant water shortages in a specific area.
Regional Water Restrictions

CVRD and member municipalities have coordinated water use restrictions across the region based on the current drought situation and provincially set drought levels. Some Improvement Districts and private water systems may choose to apply different voluntary restrictions. If regional and voluntary restrictions are insufficient, Temporary Protection Orders under the Water Sustainability Act may apply.

Cowichan Regional Watering Regulation Summary Table

Regulations apply to the Municipality of North Cowichan, City of Duncan, Cowichan Valley Regional District, Cowichan Tribes, Town of Lake Cowichan, Town of Ladysmith, Diamond Improvement District, Stz’uminus First Nation, Mill Bay Water District, and Cowichan Bay Waterworks.

Stage 1: Sprinkling 2 hours maximum, 2 days per week.
Stage 2: Sprinkling 2 hours maximum, 1 day per week.
Stage 3: No sprinkling. Hand-watering 2 hours maximum / Micro drip irrigation lines 4 hours maximum, all days.
Stage 4: ALL USE OF WATER FOR ANY PURPOSE OTHER THAN DRINKING, FOOD PREPARATION AND PERSONAL HYGIENE IS SUBJECT TO STAGE 4 RESTRICTIONS. No sprinkling. Hand-watering, micro or drip irrigation subject to daily maximum.

Note: Sprinkling and hand-watering times are 7:00pm – 9:00am. See more details on the CVRD New Normal Cowichan website.

Water Rights During Water Scarcity
Water users, whether licensed or not, are required to use water as efficiently as practicable. When voluntary conservation measures are not sufficient to meet all water rights, or to protect critical environmental flows or the survival of a fish population, the Water Sustainability Act (WSA) provides authority for statutory officials, under specified conditions, to regulate water diversion, use (and storage) by users of both stream water and groundwater. When this regulatory action is required, it can now involve groundwater users even if they do not have an authorization.

Temporary Protection Orders of the Water Sustainability Act
The Water Sustainability Act has three Temporary Protection Order (TPO) regulatory tools that can be used individually or together to shut off or curtail water users when there is water scarcity:

During an event of water scarcity where temporary protection orders are made under the Water Sustainability Act, the diversion of water from surface and ground water will be provisioned by the oldest water licensees holder in accordance with the following ranking of use:

(a) domestic; (e) mining; (i) storage;
(b) waterworks; (f) industrial; (j) conservation;
(c) irrigation; (g) oil and gas; (k) land improvement.
(d )mineralized water; (h) power;
Check out the BC Adapts Water Conservation videos

The full playlist is available at BC Adapts: Water Conservation Videos.

Current Burning Permissions
Open burning—or burning outdoors—is allowed when the wildfire risk is low and can be a useful tool when conducted responsibly. Open burning includes Category 1 campfire, Category 2 and Category 3 open fire.
CATEGORY 3
CATEGORY 2
CATEGORY 1 CAMPFIRE
FIRE BAN
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Regional Water Use Restrictions
During drought conditions, your water system operator may introduce water use restrictions to conserve limited water supplies. There are four stages of water restrictions which are coordinated across the Cowichan Valley. Local conditions may sometimes require a higher stage of water restrictions on certain systems.
No Restrictions
Stage 1 Restrictions
Stage 2 Restrictions
Stage 3 Restrictions
Stage 4 Restrictions
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