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Rainforest in effect locally but drought, water scarcity conditions affect rest of B.C.

The West Kootenay watershed is intact and at a very low drought level despite drought and water scarcity across the majority of the province — Creative Commons photo.

B.C.’s temperate inland rainforest is living up to its billing.

The West Kootenay watershed is intact and at a very low drought level despite drought and water scarcity across the majority of the province.

Drought and water scarcity continues to affect the west coast, south coast and northeastern areas of B.C. that have experienced little to no rainfall over the past five weeks with continued dry weather in the forecast.

In fact, there are some areas under drought level four in the province, including the Fort Nelson basin, the Sunshine Coast basin, Lower Mainland basin, and the east and west Vancouver Island basins. At drought level four, conditions are extremely dry and adverse effects to socio-economic or ecosystem values are likely.

There are no areas in the West Kootenay and Boundary region with such drought conditions. The prevailing rating is a one for the West Kootenay basins, with the Kettle drainage at a three.

“Drought is a recurring feature of climate that involves reduced precipitation, such as rain, during an extended period, resulting in a water shortage,” noted the B.C. Rivers Forecast Centre (BCRFC).

Regions under drought level three include the eastern pacific range basin, Coldwater River basin, Kettle basin, and the South Peace, North Peace and East Peace basins.

“At drought level three, conditions are becoming severely dry,” the Forecast Centre pointed out. “Potentially serious ecosystem or socio-economic effects are possible in some circumstances.”

Role reversal

Last year water sources overall across the region were designated level four — a severe drought designation — as hot and dry weather impacted the West Kootenay.

The BCRFC had stated that concerns about water supply security, drought and water scarcity were an issue for most of the southern half of British Columbia — including Nelson and the West Kootenay.

Drought level five conditions existed at the Anderson Creek reporting station near Nelson last year, recording 10 per cent of its median flow.

The primary water source for the city is Five Mile Creek — located in the West Arm Wilderness Park — with Anderson and Selous Creek serving as its secondary seasonal sources.

• BC River Forecast Centre map of the region:

https://governmentofbc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=838d533d8062411c820eef50b08f7ebc

• Anderson Creek station seven-day flow and historical data:

http://bcrfc.env.gov.bc.ca/lowflow/drought_interactive/08NJ130.html