Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations of British Columbia

07/09/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/09/2021 15:52

Okanagan, Shuswap, Thompson-Nicola, Cariboo drought, water scarcity conditions

Drought is affecting much of British Columbia, including many parts of the southern and central interior.

Very low spring rainfall, exacerbated by the recent extreme heat and record conditions in June and early July, is causing water scarcity and low flows.

The Salmon River watershed, which drains into Shuswap Lake, is currently at Drought Level 4. In this area, significant, adverse impacts on fish are very likely, and maximum water conservation for all water users and licensees is being urged.

Areas under Drought Level 3 include: the Nicola and Coldwater watersheds near Merritt, the Kettle River watershed near Grand Forks, and the entire Okanagan valley. Many other areas in the central and southern Interior are under Drought Level 2 or Drought Level 1. Conserving water resources is also important in these areas, to reduce the risk of adverse impacts to water users or the environment.

British Columbia ranks drought levels from 0 to 5, with Drought Level 5 rated as the most severe with adverse impacts to socio-economic or ecosystem values being almost certain.

Water conservation is everyone's responsibility. Residential, agricultural and industrial water users in areas affected by drought should observe all water conservation bylaws, watering restrictions and advice from their local government, irrigation district or water utility.

Irrigators, water licensees and water users in watersheds experiencing water scarcity should prepare and plan in case additional targeted local water restrictions or provincial temporary protection orders under the Water Sustainability Act are required as the summer progresses.

General water conservation tips:

At home:

  • Limit outdoor watering
  • Do not water during the heat of the day or when it is windy
  • Consider planting drought-tolerant vegetation
  • Take shorter showers
  • Do not leave taps running
  • Install water-efficient showerheads, taps and toilets

On the farm:

  • Implement an irrigation-scheduling program using real-time weather data
  • Schedule irrigation to match crop needs and soil storage capacity
  • Improve water system efficiencies and check for leaks
  • Focus on high-value crops and livestock


  • Reduce non-essential water use
  • Recycle water used in industrial operations
  • Use water-efficient methods and equipment

Learn More:

Drought portal (maps, tables, definitions):

Drought information:

Freshwater sportfishing regulations and angling closures:

River Forecast Centre:

Drought and agriculture: