Conditions are so dry in B.C’s Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast and Fraser Valley that the provincial government has raised the drought rating to the highest category — Level 4 — and are warning that if things get worse, water shortages could affect people, industry and agriculture.
“All water users are urged to maximize their water conservation efforts,” said the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in a release.
This provincial drought rating is distinct from the regional ratings used by water managers, such as Metro Vancouver — but the change means further water use restrictions could be imposed in the region, if necessary.
Currently, Metro Vancouver is under Stage 2 water restrictions, which limits lawn watering and other non-essential uses of treated drinking water. The reservoir levels sit at 73 per cent, which is below normal for this time of year.
The Lower Mainland’s drought rating was last raised to Level 3 on June 30, according to the release.
Vancouver Island is already at Level 4.
Seven more Alberta counties consider declaring states of agricultural disaster by Rachel Ward, July 14, 2015, Edmonton Journal in Calgary Herald
Quotes from news clip:
“The grass needs water. Animals need water.”
Seven more Alberta counties are considering declaring states of agricultural disaster as persistent dry weather threatens the livelihoods of farmers across the province.
Leduc, Athabasca, Northern Lights, Northern Sunrise, Barrhead, Westlock and Thorhild counties all have votes planned in the next few weeks on weather to make that step. Tuesday, Parkland County west of Edmonton and McKenzie County in northern Alberta announced they had declared a disaster.
A declaration of a state of agricultural disaster does not automatically trigger provincial or federal action, although several counties hope for a relief fund to be developed. [Will the frac’ers stop fracing?]
The province has not yet made any decisions, a spokesman for the Alberta Ministry of Agriculture said Wednesday.
“It’s too early, but what it does is it put us on notice,” spokesman Mike Long said.
Farmers should turn to crop insurance and other programs offered by the province, he said. “Hopefully we can see some conditions improve. There is still some chance where precipitation will help.”
In Barrhead County, crops look “ragged,” agricultural fieldman Kyle Meunier said Wednesday. Meunier, who works for the county, is an expert crop and field conditions.
“We don’t want to use the D-word — drought — but we know what it is. There’s not water out here,” Meunier said.
Bud Massey. the reeve of Westlock hopes a relief fund for crop and cattle farmers can be formed. Small farms especially, which make up much of the county’s agricultural industry, are unable to absorb a full season’s loss, he said. And some don’t have crop insurance, Massey said. Cattle farmers have also started selling livestock,
“This is an especially difficult time for people who live on the prairies,” he said.
“It’s almost getting at the point rain wouldn’t help much.”
Relief funding from the province would help, but Massey hopes the province also considers investing in developing farming technology. The weather has been “unusual” in recent years, for example, in more drastic temperature differences, he said.
“I’m hoping people are thinking long term. We can’t argue any more about climate change,” Massey said.
“I’ve never lived a winter when water is running down the ditches in January.” [Emphasis added]
State of agricultural disaster declared in Parkland County by Rachel Ward, July 13, 2015, Edmonton Journal
As farmers across Alberta struggle with dry fields and grasshoppers, Parkland County west of Edmonton declared Tuesday a state of agricultural disaster.
The lack of rain provincewide could have lasting effects across the industry, says the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta. The council is a not-for-profit organization that helps farmers improve their operations using research and technology.
“We are in an emergency situation. Most parts of the province have not received near enough rain to grow a significant crop or the pastures needed to feed livestock,” council executive director Janette McDonald said Tuesday.
“For perennial crops like pasture and hay land, a severe drought like this can really affect their health long term.”
The county is in the most affected region of Alberta, the most recent provincial crop report says.
As of July 7, more than half of crops and 81 per cent of hay and pasture growth rated poorly, the report says.
Experts said a month ago the region around Edmonton experienced its driest spring in 50 years. That’s forcing farmers to make “real decisions,” McDonald said.
“The pastures and hay crop can recover to some extent if we started to get some rain, but most of the annual crops are past recovering in terms of yield,” she said.
“We’ve been through droughts before, but this one is going to be very significant.”
The worst drought in recent memory was in 2001-02 and caused serious damage to Alberta’s agricultural industry.
At the time, a group of farmers from Ontario, called Hay West, shipped hay to help Albertan farmers.
There’s no word yet that any farmers are offering similar support, Peter Dobbie, the provincial farmers advocate said.
So far farmers have been creative, for example, moving livestock between fields, and could rely on production insurance, said Peter Dobbie, Farmers’ Advocate of Alberta, which is part of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
“The farmers that I talked to are amazingly philosophical. Stressing and obsessing over it isn’t what to do.”
Parkland County will request a disaster recovery program be set up by both the provincial and federal governments. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
What will we do with frac’d oil and gas and no drinking or bathing water and no food to eat?
… Prolonged droughts are among Canada’s costliest natural disasters, according to the now defunct Drought Research Institute. An analysis of the 2001 and 2002 drought years in Canada suggests that the cost to Gross Domestic Product added up to $5.8 billion.
During the two years, over 41,000 jobs were lost; agricultural production across Canada dropped by an estimated $3.6-billion; and in 2002 the number of forest fires in Alberta increased to five times the 10-year average.
We may not know the statistics resulting from this drought once it’s over. Why?
Unfortunately, such research in Canada is now hard to come by in one place: the drought institute ran into its own drought in 2011 – the Harper government cut funding to the scientific body, ending its research.
“We expected the network to go for a full decade to get into the next drought cycle, so we would be scientifically prepared for it,” says Pomeroy, who headed up the institute along with University of Manitoba meteorologist, Ron Stewart.
With the funding lost, the network of 60 researchers dispersed. The irony is if the institute was still operating, it would be providing research on the current situation. “It’s very frustrating,” Pomeroy says. “We’re trying to study this one as best we can without resources right now.”
A proportion (25% to 100%) of the water used in hydraulic fracturing is not recovered, and consequently this water is lost permanently to re-use, which differs from some other water uses in which water can be recovered and processed for re-use.