I'm about to state the obvious: it’s dry!

It has been nearly a month since we’ve had a drop of rain Victoria. While most of us are loving the warm, dry, sunny stretch of weather, the lack of precipitation is having an effect on Vancouver Island.

The BC River Forecast Centre just issued a bulletin to summarise the state of our waterways, and some of the low-elevation streams have lower than normal amounts of water flowing through them. In fact, those creeks and streams under a close watch are at low-flow levels that only occur once every five to 20 years. 

Vancouver Island is the only place in the province to be at Level 3 on the drought scale: very dry. How did this happen? Well, the snow melt began 1 or 2 weeks earlier than normal and it was accelerated; and we haven’t had any rain for a long time.

The scientists at the Environment who are monitoring the situation warn that if the dry weather continues, many low elevation streams on Vancouver Island will experience severely reduced water flow. Unfortunately these tend to be smaller fish-bearing streams. Here’s the good news: larger rivers originating from higher elevations which are fed by snowpack, including the Nanaimo River, Tsolum River and Cowichan River, are better able to withstand dry conditions. At this point, they’re just fine.

Rivers and creeks of greatest concern(BC River Forecast Centre):


Tofino Creek near the Mouth

current 7-day average flow that is 37% of median value for this period (between a 5-year and 20-year return period low flow for this period)

Renfrew Creek near Port Renfrew

below the minimum recorded for this time of the year (17 years of record)

San Juan River

flowing lower than normal (30-50% of median for this period)

Carnation Creek

Sarita River


What does this mean for you? If you happen to draw water from rivers and creeks which are dangerously low, you may be called upon to voluntarily reduce your water use.  Updates could come as early as next week. As for the forecast, with the exception of a slight chance of drizzle around Tofino tomorrow morning, there isn’t a drop of rain on the way for at least another week.