Ministry Declares Level 4 Drought on VI – East and South VI River fishing Banned – Water Conservation Urged

Update 12:45PM:

Due to the high or extreme fire dangers across the province, the BC Wildfire Management Branch has now imposed a campfire, open burning, and firework ban for the entire province.  The only exception is the ‘fog zone’ on the West coast of VI and all of Haida Gwaii.

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The following is the press release from the Ministry of Forests.  Currently the City of Port Alberni has not changed its Level 1 water restriction policy but continues to monitor it very closely.

I will update if there are any other implications to this.  Level 4 basically means the Province will have the power to compel water users to act above and beyond normal actions.

Here is a map of the banned fishing areas.  The Alberni Valley is excluded at this time.

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 11.34.47 AM

https://news.gov.bc.ca/stories/fishing-closures-part-of-comprehensive-drought-response

Responding to dry conditions, the Government of B.C. has announced a Level 4 drought rating for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, and taken the additional action of suspending angling in streams and rivers throughout southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands due to ongoing low stream flows and warming water temperatures.

At Level 4, conditions are extremely dry. Further declines in stream, lake and aquifer levels could lead to water shortages and affect people, industry such as agriculture, wildlife, and fish stocks. All water users are urged to maximize their water conservation efforts.

Effective July 4, 2015, virtually all angling in streams and rivers in Wildlife Management Units 1-1 through 1-6 is suspended. The closure has been put in place to protect fish stocks at a time when they are vulnerable due to low flows and high water temperatures. The geographic area covers Bamfield south to Victoria on the west coast, and Campbell River south to Victoria on the east coast. Key rivers affected by the order include the Caycuse, Chemainus, Cowichan, Englishman, Gordon, Little Qualicum, Nanaimo, Nitinat, Oyster, Puntledge, San Juan, Sooke, Trent and Tsable.

The Qualicum (known as “Big Qualicum”) and Quinsam rivers are the only rivers or streams in the affected area exempt from the closure. On these two streams fishing can continue as normal. These streams have sufficient water refuges to adequately protect fish, even with normal angling pressure.

The angling closure order is for southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands only at this time, but B.C. government fisheries biologists are monitoring approximately 75 other key angling streams across the province, and if conditions warrant, additional closures are possible. Lake fishing is not affected by the order. Angling closures are enabled through the British Columbia Sport Fishing Regulations of the federal Fisheries Act.

Separately, the establishment of a Level 4 drought advisory, signals that regional water managers may take additional regulatory actions if they are deemed necessary. Any such actions will be site specific depending on individual stream conditions. Specific actions could include the temporary suspension of short-term water approvals or water licences in affected watersheds if necessary. Ministry water management staff will continue to monitor conditions, work closely with First Nations, local governments and key stakeholders, and provide updates as the need arises.

Although residential, agricultural and industrial users within municipalities and regional districts backed by reservoir storage are less vulnerable to water supply shortages than water users served by smaller water systems from streams, lakes and wells, all water users are encouraged to observe local water conservation bylaws to prolong water supplies and to maintain flows for fish and ecosystems.

Water users are also reminded to ensure that water intakes are screened to prevent fish from being pulled into water systems as water levels drop. Low water levels can impede the passage of salmon to spawning grounds, increase susceptibility to disease, or cause stranding or death due to low oxygen and high water temperatures.

Water conservation is everyone’s responsibility. Many communities in B.C. are prepared to deal with water supply shortages and low streamflow conditions through drought management plans and water conservation programs that are already in place. In June 2015 the Province updated its 2010 Drought Response Plan.

Quote:

Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations – 

“As we experience warmer and drier weather, it is important that we are able to react quickly to protect vulnerable fish stocks. That is what we’ve done today, and what we will continue to do in future, as conditions warrant.”

Learn More:

To see a map of the areas covered by the stream and river angling closures visit: https://www.flickr.com/gp/bcgovphotos/22aHWX

B.C. Drought Information: http://www.livingwatersmart.ca/drought/

B.C. Drought Level Map: http://bcrfc.env.gov.bc.ca/lowflow/droughtmap.htm

B.C. Drought Response Plan (June 2015): http://www.livingwatersmart.ca/drought/response.html

What Can You Do?: http://www.livingwatersmart.ca/drought/action.html

Agriculture Drought Strategies: http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/emergency/Drought/Drought.htm

Irrigation scheduling techniques and water conservation: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/business/natural-resource-industries/agriculture/agriculture-documents/resource-management/factsheets-and-publications/500-series/577100-1_irrigation_scheduling_techniques.pdf

For assistance in developing an irrigation schedule: http://ag-calc.irrigationbc.com/

Stream flow and precipitation conditions in B.C. are monitored by the River Forecast Centre –

Groundwater levels in provincial observation wells:
http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wsd/data_searches/obswell/map/obsWells.html

Environment Canada Water Conservation: http://www.ec.gc.ca/water/en/manage/effic/e_weff.htm

A backgrounder follows.

Serious Wildfire near Nanaimo Airport – Updating with Info

Update 7AM:

The Coastal Fire Centre has update their info for the fire and put the size at 18 Hectares.  Have not yet heard about the state of the fire this morning.  I will be on CBC Radio Victoria this morning at 7:10 talking heat.  Tune in! :)

Update 10PM

OK… one more:

Here is Town of Ladysmith update page.

Update 9:15PM

I’m going to sign off for tonight.  I will update tomorrow morning if there are any new developments or earlier if something major happens. Have a good night and stay safe out there.

Update 9:05PM

Update 8:41PM

The fire is reported to still be spreading.  It is 20 hectares.

FOREST FIRE UPDATE: 8:30 PM: 2015-07-02: Key Points Below.

– The Cause of Fire has been determined and confirmed. It was caused due to wheel bearings overheating in a farmer’s field

– Location: in Cedar B.C. South of Nanaimo, British Columbia. & Near the YCD Nanaimo Airport and the fire extinguisher failed to work.

– Fire Continues to spread: The Fire has now grown from 10 hectares in size to 20 (20 hectares = 49.42 acres) in under an hour, crews are now setting up sprinkler firelines to attempt to stop the spread and damage of the fire to nearby homes.

Update 8:40PM

Update 8:35PM

An update on the Sechelt Fire from the District of Sechelt.

Forest Fire Outside Sechelt Boundaries
Posted 35 minutes ago

A forest fire was discovered late afternoon on July 2, beyond Mason Road.  Although outside the District of Sechelt boundary, first responders were the Sechelt Fire Department.  The fire can be viewed from the Porpoise Bay side of the inlet, where smoke can be seen in the vicinity of 4-Mile Point.

5:20 pm – A provincial forest service helicopter with fire response crew has arrived on scene.  No homes or infrastructure are being threatened.

6:34 pm – The fire is 2 hectares and ranked level 3 and a helicopter is bucketing water. It is moving toward the inlet. With winds becoming erratic, the situation may change quickly.  At this point there are no concerns about evacuations.  RCM SAR (Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue) will be notifying Carlson Point residents to be on alert.

Update 8:20PM

Local fire crew twitter reports fire is 20 hectares. (Contrary to BCWildfire.ca report!)

 

Update 8:15PM:

Breaking News Nanaimo reports:
Breaking News Nanaimo 8:10PM Update: We now also have confirmation of the case of the fire: It was caused by a hay baler created a spark and the fire extinguisher did not work.”

Just received this from a reader.  Apparently showing a field in Cedar that has been scorched.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 8.13.39 PM

Update 8:10PM

Finally appeared on http://apps.gov.bc.ca/pub/dmf-viewer/?siteid=5131184402955244847

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 8.07.47 PM

 

Update 7:55PM

Things appear to be settling down. Not hearing any new updates or information about the fire or evacuations spreading, which is good.

 

Update 7:40PM

Have heard that the fire at Sarita Bay is now out.

Update 7:35PM

A hopeful tone from someone near the fire.  Still nothing has been posted to the BC Wildfire website with details:

 

Update 7:30PM

 

Update 7:20PM

From Breaking News Nanaimo. UPDATE 7:20 PM: Homes evacuated as wildfire rapidly spreads near Nanaimo.  Homes on west side of Cedar Rd. between Yellow Point & Adshead Road reportedly being evacuated.  No details on whether the fire has spread across the highway at this point.

 

There is also a fire near Sechelt.

 

Update 7:15PM

Update 7:05PM

From Nanaimo Bulleting Facebook Page.

CI8-eL-UMAAr3H3

NANAIMO FOREST FIRE UPDATE 7:00PM TOP STORY UPDATE: BREAKING NEWS NANAIMO:

– Homes are being evacuated as crews from multiple districts battle a 10-acre wildfire near the Nanaimo Airport.

– Smoke could be seen billowing into the air in a forested area along Cedar Road as firefighters from Nanaimo, Ladysmith, Chemainus, North Oyster, Cedar and Cranberry try to stop the flames from spreading.

– Homes along the west side of Cedar Road between Yellow Point and Adshed Road are being evacuated as the fire continues to rapidly spread in the hot, dry conditions.

– A woman who lives just outside of the evacuation area said she and her husband noticed the flames at around 4:30 p.m. as they drove to a nearby river.

– “My husband spotted it in the corner of his eye,” said Cassandra Donnelly. “It started small and then it just went from when I posted my first picture, to 10 acres of complete fire.”

– Donnelly estimated that it only took about 20 minutes for it to grow from a small brush fire into a wildfire.

– She said flames are coming dangerously close to homes, possibly within an acre of some.

– “To know it can go that fast and that quickly within 20 minutes is pretty crazy,” she said.

– She said she and her husband were returning to their home on Yellow Point Road to prepare in case they are also given an evacuation notice.

Update 7PM

CTV News reports it is a 10 acre fire.

http://vancouverisland.ctvnews.ca/homes-evacuated-as-wildfire-rapidly-spreads-near-nanaimo-1.2451620

There are a number of fires around the coast right now.   Sechelt, Sarita Bay, and now near Nanaimo Airport.  Just today.

The fire near Nanaimo Airport is being fought heavily.  It has not yet been added to the BC Wildfire website so information is scarce and only coming in via Radio and twitter.

Ladysmith and North Oyster fire are on scene.  I will update as more info becomes available.