The Salmon River runs low beneath the Salmon River Bridge on Salmon Arm’s west end on July 12, 2021. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

The Salmon River runs low beneath the Salmon River Bridge on Salmon Arm’s west end on July 12, 2021. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon River water users urged to conserve amid drought conditions

Adverse impacts on fish in Shuswap likely with river’s level 4 drought rating

Drought conditions have prompted a call for water conservation along the Salmon River.

As of July 9, the province’s drought rating for the Salmon River had reached level 4, in which adverse impacts on fish are very likely and maximum water conservation for all water users and licensees is urged.

Drought levels, according to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD), are ranked from zero to five, with level 5 being the most severe.

“Residential, agricultural and industrial water users in areas affected by drought should observe all water conservation bylaws, watering restrictions and advice from their local government, irrigation district or water utility,” reads a July 9 media release by FLNRORD.

Read more: City of Salmon Arm urges residents to cut water use as reservoirs depleted

Read more: Increased water demand in Salmon Arm prompts city to encourage conservation

City of Salmon Arm engineering and public works director Rob Niewenhuizen said the Salmon River’s drought level doesn’t really impact the city, though it does mean less water flowing into the lake from that source.

Niewenhuizen is part of the Thompson-Okanagan Region Drought Response team that monitors drought levels in the region. He explained that efforts to mitigate less severe drought conditions begin with educating water users. When the drought level becomes more severe, users are advised to conserve water, and the ministry may take additional measures that could involve regulatory fines.

FLNRORD said irrigators, water licensees and users in watersheds experiencing water scarcity should prepare and plan in case additional targeted local water restrictions or provincial temporary protection are required.

Meanwhile, the City of Salmon Arm is urging its residents to abide by municipal watering restrictions and conserve water. Niewenhuizen recently explained to the Observer that on Mondays, when municipal water restrictions prohibit sprinkling, the city’s water treatment plant has been struggling to keep enough water flowing to replenish the city’s reservoirs.

“When residents choose not to adhere to the restrictions, this leaves the city very vulnerable to hazards such as fires and power outages which typically result from lightning storms that can occur during the hot dry periods,” said Niewenhuizen.

The ministry offers the following water conservation tips:

At home:

• Limit outdoor watering;

• Do not water during the heat of the day or when it is windy;

• Consider planting drought-tolerant vegetation;

• Take shorter showers;

• Do not leave taps running;

• Install water-efficient showerheads, taps and toilets.

On the farm:

• Implement an irrigation-scheduling program using real-time weather data;

• Schedule irrigation to match crop needs and soil storage capacity;

• Improve water system efficiencies and check for leaks;

• Focus on high-value crops and livestock.

Industry:

• Reduce non-essential water use;

• Recycle water used in industrial operations;

• Use water-efficient methods and equipment.


lachlan@saobserver.net
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