The Sumas Prairie region of the Fraser Valley, which includes many farms, was particularly hard hit by flooding in 2021. (File photo)
The flooding followed an extreme heatwave that killed more than 600 people in British Columbia, and the province issued drought advisories throughout the summer.< /p>
Since then, dry conditions have worsened. Historically low water flows killed hundreds of salmon in the Cowichan River last summer, while the province issued several orders restricting irrigation of forage crops and ranchers in the Cowichan River x27;interiors of the country had to sell their livestock due to the shortage of animal feed.
At a September press conference, British Columbia's Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma called the drought a sleeping giant of a natural disaster.
At the time, about 80 per cent of British Columbia's population was classified as drought level four or five, the two highest rankings on the scale, hampering the fight against drought. against wildfires that ravaged more than 28,000 square kilometers of land last season.
The drought map shows that a large Part of northeastern British Columbia is still classified at level five, while much of the central interior is at level three or four.
Alouette Lake in Golden Ears Park, in Maple Ridge, was one of those bodies of water that was heavily impacted by the drought l 'last summer.
Brandes describes wildfires, floods, drought and contamination as the four horsemen of the water apocalypse. The links between them are evident after more than a century of industrial and urban development in the province, he says.
You remove some of the vegetation cover, like trees, you remove riparian areas, you asphalt areas, you make them more vulnerable, he said, referring to flooding and drought. Add to that the forest fires and subsequent drinking water problems, he continues.
Nathan Cullen, who leads the province's new Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Management, argues climate change is bringing British Columbia into a new reality.
In the past, droughts in British Columbia were generally localized and short-lived, he says. extend over entire landscapes, even across the entire province, and last much longer, says the minister, recognizing that the province is catching up.
Cullen says B.C.'s efforts to modernize land use planning aim to integrate all values, including biodiversity and ecosystem health.
The British Columbia government is working on a watershed security strategy scheduled for release next year. An Intents Document (New Window) shows priority areas include strengthening local capacity and addressing gaps in provincial watershed data and use of water resources. water, as well as balancing water supply and demand, in part using the full range of tools under the Water Sustainability Act.
The document also outlines plans to strengthen Indigenous leadership in watershed governance and restoration and identifies wild salmon recovery as a key value.
The provincial government launched a $100 million fund for projects supporting watershed security with the release of its intent document last March.
The fund builds on the $27 million provincial Healthy Watershed Initiative, through which Yaqan Nukiy restoration project received funding.