Officials in Dawson Creek, B.C., have imposed the most severe water restrictions possible, following months of virtually no rain and the driest conditions in 20 years.
The combination of dry weather, a growing population and a water-hungry oil and gas industry in the area, about 700 kilometres northeast of Vancouver, has helped create the crisis, said Mike Bernier, Dawson Creek's mayor.
"This is the first time that the rivers have gotten so low that we've really had to tighten up our belts to conserve water," Bernier told CBC News Monday.
The restrictions coming into effect Thursday prevent the city's 12,500 residents from using any water outside of their homes. Oil and gas companies also will be forbidden the use of potable water for industrial use.
"Anywhere, depending on the day, 20 to 25 per cent of our water that goes through our pump stations is going to industry use for oil and gas," Bernier said.
Regulators have already acted in response to the extraordinarily dry conditions.
The B.C. Oil and Gas Commission last week suspended industrial use of water from four area rivers. Commission CEO Alex Ferguson said work in the industry could slow down but it won't stop.
"I would suspect we are not going to see any negative effects in terms of people's jobs or anything that way," Ferguson said.
Some rain is forecast in the area over the next two weeks but it's not expected to be enough to end the drought.