As drought conditions continue for much of the southern Interior, water restriction orders are now in place for two areas in the Thompson-Okanagan region.
These restrictions will affect water licensees and groundwater users in the Salmon River and Bessette Creek areas.
Effective today until Sept. 30, 2021, diversion and use of water for irrigation by certain users in the Salmon River and Bessette Creek watersheds, their tributaries and hydraulically connected aquifers, must cease. Affected licence numbers and well tags are identified in the orders.
Affected water users will be contacted directly with a copy of the signed order. These restriction orders do not apply to domestic water use or livestock watering. They also do not apply to water users that are supplied by a water utility supported by water storage.
These restrictions are required to reduce the strain on aquatic life in these systems and restore the flow volumes required to ensure the survival of culturally and economically important aquatic species, like salmon. Current drought conditions are especially challenging for the returning runs of chinook salmon, which are designated as endangered.
This order may be revoked if water flows recover above low-flow levels on a sustained basis or it is evident that the objective of safe and successful chinook migration specified in these fish protection orders have been achieved.
This regulatory action falls under the Water Sustainability Act’s purpose of avoiding significant or irreversible harm to aquatic ecosystems. Provincial staff are monitoring the situation and working to balance water uses with environmental flow needs.
Note that water used to extinguish a fire or contain and control the spread of a fire remains exempt by provisions under the Water Sustainability Act, so these orders will not apply to water that is used to control the spread of wildfires. However, people under an evacuation order due to wildfire must leave the area immediately.
Incidents of suspected non-compliance with the order can be reported to the Province’s RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) line at 1 877 952-7277 or online at https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hen/nrv/report.htm