September 1, 2006

Canada rain forest town tackles drought crisis

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A drought-hit resort town in Canada's
Pacific rain forest is trucking in water to avert a total
shutdown, but hotels and other businesses will have to severely
limit consumption, the mayor said on Friday.

Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, usually
receives about 10 feet of rain a year. It has had no serious
rainfall since June and last month was the driest August on

Mayor John Fraser -- who earlier this week ordered all
businesses to close by Friday -- said some water was being
shipped in from nearby towns.

"We've set a record for the driest August ever ... we've
always had rain in Tofino. It is a rain forest but the weather
patterns are changing," he told a televised news conference,

"It's certainly something that I think we're going to have
to look at in the future in terms of global warming ... this
was definitely the biggest wake-up call."

Fraser warned visitors they would have to live like campers
and use no more than two U.S. gallons (7.5 liters) of water
each per day.

An average 5-minute shower uses between 15 and 25 U.S.
gallons, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency's Web site.

Fraser's initial shutdown order prompted protests from
hotels and travel operators. The town's permanent population of
1,500 swells to around 20,000 in summer.

Fraser said all businesses will be shut down immediately if
the town's total water consumption exceeds 250,000 gallons a
day. Normal consumption is around 600,000 gallons a day.

Tofino, on the edge of the Pacific Rim national park, is
particularly popular with surfers and whale watchers.