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Boundary Region Drought Conditions and Updates

Boundary Region Drought Conditions and Updates
Date: July 14, 2021
Kristina Anderson, RDKB Watershed Planner

The air temperatures has continued to stay very warm, with little precipitation over the past 2 weeks. Stream flows are low to very low for this time of year, and water temperatures continues to remain high. Forecasts are reporting temperatures expected to be above normal for the next few months. Based on stream flows, groundwater levels, timing of elevated water temperatures (and reported fish kills) the conditions are looking very similar to 2015. I will distribute a comparison of 2015 and 2021 conditions over the next 2 days.

Surface and Groundwater levels

- Of the 9 monitored surface water systems, 8 are very close or at their minimum recorded level for this time of year, with the Kettle River at Westbridge showing levels between lower quartile to minimum level. (Water Survey of Canada)

- The Boundary Region has 3 groundwater observation wells. The Grand Forks and Beaverdell wells are showing groundwater levels below the 25th percentile for this time of year (based on 10 years). The Midway well is also showing groundwater levels below the 25th percentile, but the average is based on 3 years worth of data.

- During very hot and dry conditions, the Boundary region has been known to drop from 10% MAD to 5% MAD in under 2 weeks.

Temperatures from 19’C and above are sub-lethal to lethal for fish. There have been records of the Kettle River reaching between 24-25’C over the past few weeks, which has contributed to continued sightings of fish kills in all of our Electoral Areas. Provincial Fisheries Drought Management Plan (2019) speaks about drought impacts for different fish species.

Provincial Information

- The Provincial Drought Classification has been elevated to a Level 4. The Boundary region is 1 of only 3 BC watersheds identified at a drought level 4 (Extremely Dry) in the Province. We are showing very low stream flows, with forecasts not providing any obvious information indicating these low flow conditions will improve.

- The Province wants to be kept aware of environmental and economic impacts associated with the low water conditions, and water use in the Boundary region.

- Note that if voluntary reduction in water use is not sufficient to address stream specific water concerns, regulatory curtailment of water use may be required. Curtailment has the potential to include both surface water users and hydraulically connected groundwater users.

- Reach out to me if you want information whether your groundwater well is hydraulically connected.

RDKB recommendations for households

- Be Water Smart. Use water wisely and consciously. Repair water leaks, fix dripping taps, using a soil water meter, water deeply and only when needed.

- Water in the evenings and early mornings to reduce evaporation.

- Reduce all non-essential outdoor water use: avoid outdoor vehicle washing, or using water to clean pavement.

- Think before you turn on the tap, does it need to happen, if so can you do something to reduce the evaporation potential and increase absorption into the ground?

- Some great water conservation ideas: https://www.sionwater.ca/conservation-tips