Editorial: Dry spell

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With May’s warm and dry weather likely to extend through this month, the region’s “Junuary” trend seems a thing of the past.

That’s good news for people who feel offended by the need to wear a sweater just when days are longest and the seasonal calendar is about to turn the page to summer. It’s not so great for water reserves.

The forecast suggests conditions will remain warm and dry for the coming weeks, and dropping water levels have caused the province to announce a level-three drought rating for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. The most recent North Salt Spring Waterworks data shows water levels at both their drinking water reservoirs at St. Mary and Maxwell lakes are on par with the same time of year in 2018, on the downward trend that usually reaches its lowest point at the beginning of October. But with much lower rainfall received this spring in comparison to the average, the provincial drought announcement has come more than a month earlier than it did last year. NSSWD is following suit by upping its conservation level starting today.

Level three drought conditions call for voluntary water-use reductions for all surface water and groundwater users, including residents, industry, farmers and municipalities.

According to the province, all water users, whether licensed or not, are required to use water as efficiently as practicable. When voluntary conservation measures are not sufficient to meet all water rights, or to protect critical environmental flows or the survival of a fish population, the Water Sustainability Act provides authority to the provincial government to regulate water use by users of stream water and groundwater — even those who have not registered or licensed their private wells.

An observation among local planning authorities is that people tend to get interested in water-related issues only when their own supply is directly threatened.

Residents who subscribe to water district services are already good at following conservation guidelines. Now is the time for everyone else to follow their example, whether their own wells have shows signs of stress or not.

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