For Immediate Release
Sept. 3, 2003
Office of the Premier
Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management
PUBLIC ASSISTANCE REQUIRED TO CONSERVE WATER
VICTORIA - Parts of British Columbia are experiencing the most severe
drought conditions in 100 years, and Premier Gordon Campbell reiterated the
province's request for the public to assist by helping conserve water.
The cabinet was briefed today on the current drought that is affecting
southern British Columbia. For some streams, the current flow conditions are
only 10 to 25 per cent of normal for this time of year. Groundwater levels
are also below normal in southern Vancouver Island, the Abbotsford-Sumas
aquifer and many parts of the southern Interior, particularly the Okanagan.
The central Interior, Georgia Basin and Kootenays are also affected.
"As the Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection stated on August 12, the
province is facing one of the driest summers on record and public help to
conserve water is vital," Campbell said. "The same hot, dry conditions that
are causing fire hazards are also creating low water levels that are
affecting drinking water supplies, as well as agriculture and fish habitat.
"I'm asking British Columbians to assist by doing what they can to reduce
water usage, co-operate with community conservation efforts and help protect
Summer rainfall (June to September) so far this year has measured 8.7 mm in
Cranbrook, versus a 10-year average of 63.6 mm; 3.4 mm in Kamloops, versus a
10-year average of 54.0 mm; and 36.7 mm in Vancouver, versus a 10-year
average of 132.4 mm.
The Greater Vancouver Regional District has adopted Phase 4 water
restrictions, and is warning of acute shortages by mid-October if
precipitation does not increase. The District of Summerland has
declared a state of emergency over its water supplies and has
also adopted Phase 4 restrictions.
A period of sustained, significant rainfall is required to end the drought
condition. Current forecasts indicated the drought will extend into late
September. Even a normal snowpack during the 2003-04 winter may not fully
replenish groundwater reserves and reservoirs, making the need for
conservation even more important.
The province has already taken a number of steps to deal with the drought.
Land and Water B.C. is regulating water use and has issued "stop-diversion"
orders, all communities have been urged to implement water conservation
measures, and the province is regularly assessing the impacts of the
The following are some household water conservation tips:
* Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth or shave. This could
save seven to 12 litres of water a minute.
* Take shorter showers and save six to 19 litres a minute.
* Install a low-flow showerhead and save as much as 10 litres a
* Check toilets for worn parts to see which ones need replacing, and
use food colouring in the water tank to see if water is leaking into the
* Do only full loads in washing machines and dishwashers, or do
dishes by hand. Each machine load uses from 170 to 190 litres.
* Wash vegetables and fruit in a pan instead of under a running tap.
A tap uses seven to 12 litres each minute it's running.
* Change tap washers to help stop dripping. Dripping taps can waste
as much as 300 litres a week.
* If local restrictions allow you to wash your car, use a bucket and
sponge or spring-loaded nozzle on the hose. This could save 300 litres of
water or more.
* Water your garden using a watering can or spring-loaded nozzle to
save 10 to 35 litres a minute.
* Water your garden early in the morning or late in the evening when
evaporation rates are low.