News

2016 Drought Update

Cowichan Watershed Board, May 28, 2016

(Duncan, BC) Due to a very warm dry spring, the Cowichan Watershed is experiencing the lowest water levels ever witnessed at this time. While we started the year with a healthier snowpack, the warm April weather melted it quickly.  We depend on the weir on Lake Cowichan to capture spring rains and run-off but it is not tall enough to hold adequate water to supply the river for the whole summer. The lake is now too low to sustain the recommended min. 7 cubic metres per second (cms) river flow rate through the summer unless significantly more rain falls through the season. As a result, permission has now been granted to reduce the river flow from the weir to 4.5 cms in an attempt to keep the river wetted throughout the summer. This has undesirable consequences for local ecology, recreation, and industry but overall it is believed to be preferable to letting the river run dry. Discussions and studies are in process to raise the weir on Cowichan Lake to help with this in future years and the Watershed Board is actively working to support this strategy.  

Early Spring Brings Drought Conditions to the Cowichan Valley

News Release, CVRD, May 26, 2016

Duncan,  BC  –  April  showers  usually  bring  May  flowers,  but  this  year’s  hot,  dry  spring  has
brought drought conditions to the valley instead. The snowpack is melting rapidly, lake and river
levels are at record low levels, and the forecast is for a hot, dry summer. Now is the time for
residents throughout the Cowichan Valley to think seriously about water conservation.
 
Provincial drought levels are updated throughout the spring and summer based on measures

Water levels dangerously low in Cowichan Valley

Robert Barron, Cowichan Valley Citizen, May 27, 2016

Unlike much of the rest of Vancouver Island, the Cowichan region is already experiencing drought conditions.

As of the middle of May, the region is at Level 3, or “very dry”, drought conditions, according to an analysis conducted by the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

The analysis, prepared by environmental analyst Jeff Moore, said the conclusions are the result of a number of indicators.

Drought Countdown

Susan Down, LocalEye.ca, May 23 2016

We like to count in the Cowichan Valley – salmon, raindrops, lake levels. After all, management guru Peter Drucker said that you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

But measuring is only half the job. Once they have the numbers, leaders can then decide which direction to take. In the CVRD, we should be acting, fast, to handle the drought conditions that could seriously harm our region.

Officials sound alarm over low Cowichan River water levels

James Goldie, Cowichan Valley Citizen, May 20, 2016

Cowichan RiverThe Cowichan River is in danger of drying up this year, and Catalyst Paper Corporation, which controls the flow of water through the Cowichan Lake weir, has begun reducing the outflow of water in order to keep that from happening.

It may seem counter intuitive — reducing the flow of water out of the lake at a time when creeks and tributaries are already drying up — but if the outgoing water isn’t slowed down now, what’s held back by the weir in storage will be tapped out by the beginning of July.

BC’s 2016 endangered rivers list targets key waterways by region

News Release, Outdoor Recreation Council of BC, March 17, 2016

The list highlights the Seymour, Fraser, Cowichan, Thompson, Peace and Skeena Rivers and Shawnigan Creek

This year’s most endangered rivers list for British Columbia, compiled since 1993 by the 100,000 member Outdoor Recreation Council (ORC) and based on public input, details the province’s most imperiled rivers by region, including the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the interior and the north.

In the Lower Mainland, the Seymour River has been impacted by a 50,000 cubic meter rock slide that occurred in December, 2014 and now blocks the return of key early coho and summer steelhead stocks. In addition, this blockage has had broader ecosystem impacts in that wildlife, such as bears, mink, otters and eagles are being severely impacted due to diminishing fish stocks. Last fall, under the admirable direction of the Seymour Salmonid Society, it took 2500 volunteer hours to net and hand-carry fish above the slide, an option that is not sustainable.

Water Woman Lesson Plans for Teachers

UNIT INTRODUCTION

Hello and thank you for exploring ways that you might choose to engage your classroom(s) in discussions and/or activities to promote water conservation!

The Cowichan Valley has experienced severe droughts in many recent years, resulting in residents, industry, First Nations, local government, stewardship groups and others coming together to get serious about using our water more wisely. In July 2014, “Water Woman” magically appeared to help!

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