My concerns about general stream levels in the Kootenays have been confirmed by a Ministry of Environment Press Release, but from a Rossland perspective, our stream flows are still sufficient for mid-July. We’ll reassess in the coming weeks to determine how the levels are coping with all this heat. Here’s the gist of the press release…457064027_d1b09582b0_m

River levels in the south and central Interior:

  • The Granby and Kettle rivers (located in Westbridge, Midway, and Grand Forks) are at five-to-10 year low flows.
  • Camp Creek (Summerland), Salmon River (Salmon valley), Nicola River and Coldstream Creek (Merritt) are at five-to-10 year lows.
  • The Tulameen and Similkameen rivers (Hedley, Princeton) are well below median water levels for the date, and dropping steadily.
  • In the Kootenay, the Salmo River and Redfish Creek are at five-year lows.
  • Penfold Creek and the Horsefly River are at five-year lows.
  • The Bulkley River (Smithers) is near a five-year low.


[ad#125-right]Despite excellent snow packs across much of the region last winter, the above average temperatures over the past six weeks have seen creeks dry up as the processes of evaporation and transpiration have accelerated, resulting in water loss from soils, rivers and lakes.

Current weather forecasts indicate continued drier, warmer weather for the south interior for the next five days.  Without significant and widespread rain in the next couple of weeks, river levels in many areas could be at critical low-flow levels (25-year return period) by the end of July or early August.

For many communities, this will mean increased water restrictions, particularly as reservoir levels start to drop once the summer usage overtakes the stream flows feeding them.

The Columbia River Through Castlegar

Despite the fact that BC is blessed with an abundance of rivers; maintaining the stream health, and the consumption requirements of communities can be a challenge. With climate change a likely reality – business as usual with water is no longer appropriate.

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

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