Drought forces agricultural water restrictions on Kettle River

Water restrictions on Kettle

The provincial government has rankled some agriculture producers in the Beaverdell area.

The ministry issued an order for water license holders on the West Kettle River to stop using water for irrigation of forage crops (grass/legume and dairy alfalfa) as of August 31.

Thirty-seven tributaries are also included in the order, which carries the potential for hefty fines and has left some area farmers scratching their heads.

"The aforementioned ministry is not doing a stellar job informing the licence holders. You would think with such grave consequences for violating the order, they would be letting the licence holders know about the order. My spouse is one of the licence holders and we were not directly given notice," said Sandra Ryan.

The order means that all agricultural users with licences in the listed areas have to stop using water for irrigation purposes for forages in order to help protect fish in the Kettle River.

The Kettle River has been in a stage 5 drought, the highest possible classification in B.C., since the start of August. Stage 5 drought brings with it significant negative impacts on the ecosystem.

Castanet reached out to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development for comment but were told they would not be available until after the long weekend.

The provincial government announced $20 million on Friday in support of ranchers impacted by drought and wildfires.

“This year’s drought and fires have been incredibly difficult for many B.C. ranchers and farmers, and the B.C. government is here to help them keep their livelihoods and the province’s food security and economy moving forward,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture.

“The $20-million response package we’ve put together will help B.C. ranchers maintain their breeding stock, continue their operations and continue to supply British Columbians with food grown and raised in our province.

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