natural commons

    WATCH THE VIDEO / WATER AND A CHANGING CLIMATE: “Because the earth is a closed-loop system, new water is not being created. What is changing in British Columbia is the seasonal distribution. Longer, drier summers are followed by warmer, wetter winters. Extreme droughts followed by extreme floods show just how unbalanced the seasonal water cycle is now. This is our new reality,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability (July 2021)

    “A long career provides perspective. In my five decades as water resource planner and engineer, there are three years that really stand out in British Columbia when the topic is water conservation. After what in respect was a benign half-century, 1987 was BC’s first wake up call. The drought was unprecedented in living memory. But it was 2003 that truly was what we call ‘the teachable year.’ This really got the attention of British Columbians that the climate was indeed changing. In 2015, the West Coast of North America crossed an invisible threshold into a different hydro-meteorological regime. And it has happened faster than anyone expected,” stated Kim Stephens.

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    WATER SUPPLY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA’S CHANGING CLIMATE: “Since 2000, summer precipitation has dropped about 20 per cent. This step change is unusual,” stated Hans Schreier, a professor emeritus of land and water systems at the University of British Columbia (July 2021)

    Climate change has aggravated an existing vulnerability related to seasonal supply of water in BC. “If we’d go to some good conservation measures, we wouldn’t have to worry for the next 15 or 20 years about summer water supplies, But we’re a very slow starter — everybody thinks we have enough water. It’s not a technical problem, it’s a social problem. You’ve got variability every year, and all of a sudden it dropped about 20 per cent. This means we need to be far more conscientious about summer water use,” stated Hans Schreier.

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    DROUGHTS AFFECT ALL OF US: 42 days and counting – no end in sight for dry spell, which began after Metro Vancouver’s last measurable rainfall on June 15, 2021

    As Metro Vancouver headed into Day 43 of drought, officials asked residents to keep the six-week-long lack of precipitation in mind when they think about watering their lawn or washing their car. “We’re keeping a close eye on things. We need people to be really mindful about how they are using the water that is available. We’re certainly not in a position where we’ve got surplus water and people can do whatever they want,” stated Marilyn Towill, Metro Vancouver General Manager of Water Services.

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    DROUGHTS AFFECT ALL OF US: “A generation ago, water supply managers could reasonably anticipate that three months of water storage would be sufficient to maintain supply during a dry summer. Today, however, a 6-month drought is a very real likelihood,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC (July 2021)

    “Climate change has aggravated an existing vulnerability related to seasonal supply of water in BC. Over time, the safety factor has been shrinking. While it rains a lot in BC, we do not have an abundance of supply when demand is greatest. In addition, the mountainous nature of BC’s geography means that BC communities are typically storage-constrained, and what storage they do have is measured in weeks to months. As of 2015, we clearly crossed an invisible threshold into a different hydrometeorological regime in Western North America,” stated Kim Stephens.

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