“Appreciate the unforeseeable,” cautions Steve Conrad when reflecting on the 2015 Drought


Uncertainty of Water Supplies
Due to a Changing Climate

Western North America may be crossing an invisible threshold into a different hydro-meteorological regime. Communities can no longer count on a predictable snowpack and reliable precipitation to maintain a healthy water balance in their watersheds.

It has been difficult even for experts to grasp the extent of what the loss of relative hydrological stability means. Last year, in an online poll conducted by CBC News, the public chose the drought as British Columbia’s “Top Story of 2015”.

For British Columbians, 2015 was the year of the great drought, dwindling snow packs, melting glaciers, beleaguered salmon runs and a costly forest fire season, followed by windstorms and heavy rains. Launched from a powerful El Nino, storms caused the single largest electrical outage in the province’s history.

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Year-end newspaper, radio and television interviews about BC’s changing climate featured the perspective provided by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia. Click on “The Drought” was British Columbia’s Top News Story of 2015

Expect More Droughts

“At this time last year, few people would have would have predicted that B.C. would experience one of the driest summers on record. Now, just six months since drought conditions were lifted across B.C., could B.C. be looking at another summer of drought? The odds are that we will not, but with climate change, we certainly could – and we certainly will see more droughts,” observes Steve Conrad, Associate Director, Pacific Steve Conrad_trimmed_120pWater Research Centre at Simon Fraser University.

The goal of the Centre is to help resolve increasing drought issues that are related to climate change, and to open up a dialogue with communities about water-management issues.

“We put systems in place thinking things are going to be stable. Now we realize that we’re going to have more ups and downs, and on a more frequent basis.”

“Drought impacts all water users, including farmers, residents, businesses, and drought significantly reduces water flows for the environment. Remembering that water shortages can and will occur anytime and anywhere is key requirement for developing sustainable water supply strategies.”

“Appreciate the unforeseeable. That’s just one of the lessons we should take away from last year’s drought. Appreciating the unforeseeable means we should be prepared to reduce water use, consider alternative water supplies, capture any rain we do receive, and protect vulnerable ecosystems and important water uses during drought periods,” concludes Steve Conrad.

Planet Earth