Low river levels prompts water conservation warning in southern B.C.

VANCOUVER — A combination of below-normal snowpack accumulations this winter, and a dry, hot spring and summer have resulted in low streamflow conditions for rivers in the southern interior and south coast of B.C., the provincial government is warning.

Coupled with below average rainfall since April, the weather conditions have resulted in rapid evaporation of soil water and surface water, causing river levels to recede faster than usual and leaving some rivers at record low flows for this time of year, a press release from the provincial environment ministry said.

As a result, Environment Minister Barry Penner said he is urging British Columbians to help conserve our water resources. For details on how to become a more efficient water user, visit www.livingwatersmart.ca

The Chilliwack, Squamish and Coquihalla rivers, as well as the Coquitlam River above Coquitlam Lake, are all near 10-20 year low flows, and valley bottom rivers in the Fraser Valley appear to be experiencing significant low flow. The Nicomekl River in Surrey and Langley is currently below its record low flow for this time of year, the ministry said.

The Fraser River through the Lower Mainland is also below normal, near a two to four-year low flow for the date. This largely results from low Thompson River flows. The Fraser River upstream of the Thompson River currently is near its normal levels, the ministry said.

“There is a strong possibility that some rivers in the south interior and south coast may approach or exceed absolute lows of record in four-to six weeks. This will likely result in low water supply, lower than normal lake and reservoir levels, and reduced groundwater levels. In some areas, fish and other aquatic organisms may be affected,” the release said.