A serious drought level and low streamflow advisory haves been issued for the Nicola Valley and other parts of the Southern Interior by the provincial government in response to dry conditions.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources announced a level 3 drought rating for the Nicola, Similkameen, South Thompson, Okanagan-Kettle and Skagit areas.
Low stream flow advisories are currently in place for the southern Nicola area, western Similkameen and Vancouver Island.
A Level 3 drought rating is the second highest of its kind and calls for voluntary 20 per cent reductions in water use from municipal, agricultural and industrial users.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources anticipates the regions under a Level 3 rating will have serious water supply shortages in 2015.
Ministry staff could upgrade the drought rating to Level 4 — the highest drought rating — if the weather continues to negatively effect stream flows and water supply.
In the case of a Level 4 drought rating, provincial water managers may exercise their authority to temporarily suspend short-term water permits or industrial water licenses in affected watersheds.
Environment Canada is forecasting warm temperatures and over the next 10 days with less than 10 millimeters of rain falling in the Nicola-Similkameen area over that time.
The Coldwater River at Merritt is currently recording a flow that is six per cent of its median flow and is lower than the recorded minimum for this time.
In Brookmere, the Coldwater River is recording a flow that is 10 per cent of its median flow and less than the recorded minimum average for this time.
The Tulameen River at Princeton is also recording a flow that is 10 per cent of its median flow and below average.
Streamflows are expected to continue decreasing through mid-July.
The Nicola and Similkameen areas have both experienced warmer-than-usual temperatures and below-average precipitation in June and early July.
This combined with minor runoff from an early and record low snowpack has contributed to low stream flows in the Coldwater, Tulameen and Coquihalla rivers.
Snowpack is the primary source of water flow for the Coldwater River.
Additionally, a ban on fishing in streams and rivers in the Southern Okanagan has been put in place due to warm temperatures and low stream flows.
Beginning July 15, all streams and rivers in the Similkameen drainage, the Kettle and West Kettle rivers and tributary rivers in these areas will be closed to anglers until September 15.
The angling ban is meant to protect fish stocks when they are vulnerable to low flows and high water temperatures, and covers most of the Southern Okanagan.
Lake fishing isn’t affected by this order.