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Rain improves region's drought outlook

July 20, 2016 3:29 P.M.


Fears of a drought in the Thompson-Okanagan region after a hot spring have eased, with cool and wetter weather than normal this July.

"A drought in the region is “still a possibility,” said Chuck van Hemmen, acting regional executive director with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, adding that it depended on rainfall and temperatures until the end of summer.

However, officials say the situation is much more positive than it was last year.

“The majority of the snow pack is now gone except at extreme high elevation,” said a statement from the ministry on Tuesday. “Stream flows in the region are now dependent almost entirely upon precipitation, which the region has been receiving regularly.

“The ongoing wet and cool weather has given a boost to flows and is helping to maintain cooler stream temperatures.”

Drought levels have been downgraded to Level 1, the least risk, in most of the Thompson-Okanagan – with the exception of the Nicola basin which remains at Level 2.

The ministry is not monitoring any particular stream flows, unlike last year when 50 regional streams were under surveillance and there were numerous reports of fish kills due to higher water temperatures.

“In the Nicola's Coldwater River, we had one-fifth the water (last year at this time) of what we have presently,” said van Hemmen.

The Salmon and Kettle rivers in the Okanagan are prone to drought, according to van Hemmen, who added that “right now things are looking good.”

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