Water Scarcity

B.C. Braces for Severe Drought as Snowpack Plummets

Main image to the post B.C. Braces for Severe Drought as Snowpack Plummets

Aaron Hill, director of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, expresses grave concerns over British Columbia's low snowpack levels. The province's snow bulletin reveals a 40% deficit compared to normal, raising fears of severe drought conditions. This is significantly lower than last year's 79% of normal, which led to a prolonged drought and devastating wildfires.

The low snowpack, combined with warm seasonal forecasts and lingering drought impacts, poses significant drought hazards for the upcoming spring and summer. The South Coast is particularly vulnerable, with snowpack levels ranging from 30% on Vancouver Island to 47% in the Lower Fraser region.

Premier David Eby shares his concerns, highlighting the low water levels in dams, insufficient water for cattle farming, and the devastating forest fires experienced last year. He emphasizes that the extreme weather events in California serve as a warning of the impacts of climate change.

Hill stresses the importance of snowmelt for salmon survival at all stages of their life cycle. Last summer's drought resulted in fish mortality events due to dry rivers and dangerously high water temperatures. He cites an incident where Cheam First Nation rescued over 3,000 salmon and trout by relocating them to cooler waters upstream.

Hill emphasizes the role of vegetation in mitigating drought impacts, as trees provide shade and reduce water temperatures. He urges the preservation of trees along stream banks to support fish and wildlife amidst rising temperatures and droughts.

The province's snow bulletin indicates a high likelihood of above-normal temperatures through April, with moderate likelihood for May to July. Precipitation forecasts remain uncertain. The next snow bulletin is expected in early March. The B.C. government is developing a watershed security strategy to address these challenges.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09