Navigating Droughts: How water conservation can make a difference

Apr 25, 2024

illustration of backpack, plan checklist, and drought icon against a dry landscape

When the BC Government and local authorities urge people and business to conserve water because of droughts, it’s important to listen to the warnings. Water conservation is always important and everyone’s responsibility. People and businesses in affected areas should reduce water use wherever possible and obey all water restrictions in their community.

If conservation efforts are not successful and drought conditions worsen, temporary protections orders under the Water Sustainability Act may be issued to support drinking water for communities and to avoid harming ecosystems.

This is why it’s critical to pay attention, know what drought level your community is at, and listen to water restrictions.

Drought levels in BC

The Province of BC uses a six-level classification to rate the severity of drought conditions. Drought classification levels state the likelihood of negative socioeconomic and ecosystem impacts. They also provide guidance on anticipated response measures. The table below was created by the Government of BC and helps explain the different drought levels.

table explaining the 5 drought level classifications in BC. Sourced from the Govt of BC.

It’s recommended to regularly check your community’s drought level to see which water restrictions may be in place for your specific area. With BC experiencing abnormally dry winters, this should be done year-round.  To check, visit your First Nation’s website or follow them on social media. You can also find information on local government websites or on the interactive BC Drought Levels Map.

Whether your area is currently impacted by drought or not, we encourage everyone to help conserve water. By doing our part, we can all help conservation efforts succeed in our communities and reduce the risk of serious harm to our lands.   

10 Water Conservation Tips for Home

Here are 10 tips we’ve gathered to help protect our homes and our lands.

illustration of a water sprinkler

#1: Limit outdoor watering

Water flower beds, gardens, and lawns sparingly. Don’t know if you’ve watered enough? Put a clean, empty tuna can on your lawn while it’s being watered and once it’s full, it’s had enough water.

illustration of the sun low in the sky, behind mountains

#2: Water in the morning or evening

Your plants and lawn will receive more water when the sun is low in the sky. This is because water evaporates quickly during the day when it’s hot or windy.

illustration of gardening equipment

#3: Plant drought-tolerant vegetation

If you’re planning a new garden, consider plants and flowers that survive and thrive with little water. They also require less care and you don’t have to worry about them as much when you’re away or on vacation!

illustration of shower head and timer

#4: Take shorter showers

Showers should be less than five minutes long when trying to conserve water. You can also shut it off when you’re not using it like letting your shampoo or conditioner sit. Showers also use less water than baths so choose a shower over a bath when you can.

illustration of laundry machine and laundry basket

#5: Fill it up

Run full loads of laundry and full loads in the dishwasher. Dishwashers are more water-efficient than washing by hand, but if you can’t wait until the dishwasher is full and need a few dishes cleaned, it’s best to wash them by hand.

illustration of a running tap

#6: Turn off the tap

It’s not usually necessary to leave the tap on during many everyday tasks. Remember to not leave the water running when you’re brushing your teeth, doing dishes, washing your face, or shaving.

illustration showing to put water in the fridge

#7: Put it in the fridge

If you like cold water from the tap, fill up a jug and keep it in the fridge. You’ll no longer need to waste water by running the tap until the water is cold and it will save time as well.

illustration of a broken tap and a wrench

#8: Check plumbing

Water can be wasted by leaky toilets, sinks, and taps both inside and outside the home. Regularly check your home for leaks and consider installing water-efficient shower heads, taps, and toilets.

illustration of broom and brush for cleaning

#9: Clean mindfully

Clean your driveway or patios with a broom instead of a hose. If you have a vehicle and like to keep it clean, it might not be necessary to wash it as often. If you do need to clean it, consider bringing it to a car wash instead of washing it at home because some car washes recycle water and are more water-efficient.

illustration of rain falling into a rain barrel

#10: Recycle water

Use buckets or rain barrels to collect rainwater for plants, animals, or crops. Depending on where you live, you might be surprised to see how much water you can gather during a rainfall!

Next steps

We encourage everyone to learn more about droughts, their impacts on communities, and how you can help. These resources from the BC Government are a great place to start: