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(October 29) Tapped Out: A Special Report on Water Scarcity and Water Solutions in British Columbia

British Columbia’s climate has changed. 2015 is Year 5 of a new climate reality that is defined by recurring extremes. Floods, drought, forest fires and windstorms – all are happening within the same year, and year after year. Summers are longer and drier; winters are warmer and wetter. As a consequence, the seasonal water balance is out of balance. Change is occurring at a rate much faster than anticipated. This has risk management implications for security of water supply.

As illustrated on the map, almost two-thirds of B.C.’s population (i.e. about 3 million people) live in areas that are deemed to be water-stressed. 

The recently released report Tapped Out: A Special Report on Water Scarcity and Water Solutions in BC highlights the pressing issue of seasonal water scarcity in BC. The takeaway message is that water is a finite resource, even in water-rich British Columbia. With droughts being our new reality, sustainability of water supply dictates that communities would adapt their water use to match the new seasonal pattern. On a practical basis, risk management would oblige communities to have a plan to regulate demand and maintain water supply through a 6-month drought, both for people and fish, from storage (engineered and/or natural).

“There is a myth that B.C. has limitless water supplies,” says lead author Tanis Gower, Project Biologist with the Watershed Watch Salmon Society. “However, 2.9 million British Columbians live in areas where water shortages are likely to be a serious problem in the coming years.

Quick Facts from the report:

  • Approximately 63% of B.C.’s population (2.9 million people) live in water-stressed areas, as defined by the Province’s designations used to support water licensing decisions.
  • The areas with the highest levels of water stress cover only 3.7% of the province, but 23% of B.C.’s population lives in these places.
  • B.C.’s population has doubled since the 1970s, and some water-stressed areas have higher-than-average growth rates.

To read the report, click here.

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