The B.C. River Forecast Centre released its snow survey information this week, and the outlook is the same across the province — snow packs are well below normal.
Across B.C. the average snow pack is 39 per cent below normal — 61 per cent of normal.
In the Kootenays, the West is at 67 per cent and the East at 63 per cant of normal.
In the snow summary, the outlook says that while there are still two to three months left in the snow season, and a weather change is possible, current trends don’t show this happening.
Living Lakes, a water science and stewardship NGO based in the Columbia Basin has responded to the latest snow survey saying concerns about B.C.’s freshwater supplies are mounting, given the new numbers. They are calling for strong action and collaborative problem solving from the provincial and local government in response to last year and for the coming year.
Living Lakes, a member of the BC Watershed Security Coalition, is calling for the province to create Watershed Management System and invest $75 million annually to safeguard freshwater. This would provide the necessary long-term support for climate adaptation projects across the province.
“The likelihood of experiencing another record drought this summer is significant,” a Living Lakes press release said.
Snow packs act as a natural reservoir, gradually releasing water during the spring snowmelt. This water recharges streams, wetlands, lakes and groundwater.
The release goes on to say that the wildfires and droughts last summer had consequences including home losses, damaged municipal water supply structures, increased water restrictions, drops in aquifer levels, low flows in rivers and streams, an wetlands and lakes drying out.
Living Lakes Canada is currently conducting a coordinated monitoring network across the region.
“The low snowpack being recorded across the Columbia Basin has concerning implications for water supply throughout the rest of 2024,” said Paige Thurston, Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework Program Manager with Living Lakes Canada. “Unless conditions shift in the next few months, communities should be prepared for low stream flows this summer. It will be critical that we track water and climate conditions throughout the year and respond accordingly.”