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What’s Going on With Tofino’s Water?

Tofino, a resort community on Vancouver Island, is facing a water crisis due to unprecedented drought conditions. The town is experiencing the driest months in recorded history, and the province has declared the entire island at Drought Level 5, the highest level. Tourism is a core driver of the local economy as many residents are employed by hospitality, hotel and adventure tours.

Known as one of the best whale watching destinations in BC, Tofino is home to West Coast Aquatic Safaris and we are proud to continue to both host visitors and employ locals. We we are committed to finding the balance between a sustainable tourism industry and viable water for everyone.

Tofino’s Water – What WCAS is Doing

We have accepted the “20% challenge” and encourage our colleagues and friends to do the same. Our Whale Watching, Bear Watching and Eco Tours in Tofino are run in a manner to minimize unnecessary use of municipal water. While our operations don’t use much fresh water, we’ve implemented the following:

💧 We are not washing down entire vessels, but rather spot washing (mostly just windows).

💧 We have put hand sanitizer in restrooms giving an options to use instead of water when washing hands. We encourage guests to use hand sanitizer on lieu of water. 

💧 Our toilets onboard the boats use sea water to flush.

Facts – Here’s what’s going on with Tofino’s water

💧 The town relies on streams from Meares Island, but the area is experiencing the driest months on record.

💧 Guest visits are crucial to the local economy, as with many destinations, Tofino and area businesses continue to welcome visitors while working to manage water and other infrastructure which can be strained with uncontrollable weather events.

💧 The Tla-oqui-aht First Nation’s efforts to halt old-growth logging on Meares Island have contributed to retaining moisture and sustaining the water supply during dry periods. This is seen as a having a positive impact on the overall water supply even when rainfall is low.

💧 A packed town hall meeting discussed the possibility of declaring a local state of emergency and implementing more stringent water-saving measures.

💧 Tofino has already implemented Stage 3 water restrictions, banning all outdoor water use, including showers, taps, and landscape watering.

💧 The town has introduced a “20% challenge” to encourage residents and businesses to reduce water consumption by 20% to reach a target of 1,700 cubic meters of water per day.

As residents in the traditional territory (Ha-houlthee) of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation of the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples have done for centuries, we are praying for rain to feed the waterways that sustain our community while we continue to welcome guests to experience our magical part of the world.