According to Inder Singh, the region will have an adequate supply of water this summer. Snowpack in the South Coast Mountains is lower than the historical average, but is well above the record low levels measured last spring ahead of the summer drought. “Water usage patterns will be monitored throughout the summer period so adjustments can be made to meet the regional water demand appropriately across the three main source lakes,” his report stated.
Water Conservation News
Western North America may be crossing an invisible threshold into a different hydro-meteorological regime. It has been difficult even for experts to grasp the extent of what the loss of relative hydrological stability means. “Communities in southwest BC dodged a bullet in 2015. Communities need to leverage this teachable year and seize opportunities to change how the water resource is viewed and managed,” states Kim Stephens.
The Water Sustainability Act is a lengthy and comprehensive document. Much of the detail about how government will implement these seven new policy directions will be provided in regulations and operational policies. “The act’s coming into force is only one part of the long journey to a truly substantial, sustainable water law regime. This process is still a work in progress,” states Oliver Brandes.
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. “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,” states Steve Conrad.
In September 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “This promises to be the most comprehensive and inclusive effort to positively change the world in all of human history. This may well be the most important thing we have ever done for ourselves and for our planet,.” stated Bob Sandford.
“The vital importance of water and water-related trade-offs with climate policy has largely been ignored to date. At first glance, water plays no role in the Paris agreement. Upon closer examination, however, we see that climate policy will have far-reaching implications for the availability of water and vice versa,” wrote Ines Dombrowsky. “The Paris agreement has for the first time made enhancement of adaptive capacities and strengthening of climate change resilience a global goal.”
In April 2016, the Environmental Managers Association of BC hosted a session about the 2015 Drought. “Three speakers will present on different aspects of water scarcity and connect the dots to the Water Sustainability Act. Oliver Brandes will describe his vision of what a world-class regulatory system can look like in B.C. Steve Conrad will elaborate on climate change science. Kim Stephens will explain what needs to be done to restore the water balance in urban areas,” announced Stephanie Voysey.
“Think of it this way. Before the building was on the site, the rain was intercepted by vegetation canopies, and/or infiltrated into natural soils. Either way, the rain ended up replenishing soil moisture, allowing the plants to grow, and recharging the local groundwater aquifer,” Franco Montalto said. “The more buildings that go up, the more we need to consider how to manage the water that would have landed in the drainage area they’re displacing.”
“In other regions, notably California, they think of droughts in terms of number of years. In the Georgia Basin (Southwest BC), we measure droughts in terms of number of months. As we have increasingly experienced in recent decades, three months versus either four or five months of essentially rain-free weather makes a material difference from a water supply perspective,” stated Kim Stephens.
Context for BC’s 2015 Drought: “Yes, We Need Rain, But We Also Need Snow,” wrote Pauline Holdsworth in The Tyee
“In British Columbia, climate models show a province that gets wetter as it gets hotter,” wrote Pauline Holdsworth. “Overall precipitation is expected to increase by six per cent in B.C. by the middle of the century, but it will be unevenly distributed throughout the year. As winters get warmer but wetter, some B.C. rivers may change from being primarily snow-fed to primarily rain-fed. Water that falls as rain will get flushed through river systems, instead of being saved for summer as snowpack.