CWB Business Plan Update 2020

This annually updated plan is intended to provide direction and guidance to the Cowichan Watershed Board (CWB)’s members and staff, and to inform our partners. It identifies goals and milestones for the next five years, includes a budget forecast, and lays out the key areas of focus and specific activities of the work plan for the coming year.

The Board’s priorities fall into in four broad areas of work in the Cowichan and Koksilah watersheds: water supply; water quality; impacts to habitats and ecosystems and ensuring organizational health.

Of these, water supply issues have become the Board’s top priority in recent years due to climate change impacts on our watershed. With the Cowichan River needing to rely on electric pumps for the first time to maintain flows in August 2019, rebuilding the Cowichan Lake weir to maintain adequate environmental flows in spring, summer and fall remains the CWB’s priority over the next five years. Similarly, flows in the Koksilah River fell below critical levels in 2019, resulting in significant ecological impacts and the withdrawal of irrigation rights to farmers in the watershed. Pursuing new tools under the Water Sustainability Act to restore health to the Koksilah has emerged as another priority for the coming years.

The Board and its many partners have formed five working groups to pursue a set of measurable “targets” for watershed health. The targets were derived from the Cowichan Basin Water Management Plan (2007) but are more broadly-based aspirational goals intended to inspire collaborative progress on: environmental flows, water quality, estuarine and riparian health, sustainable fish stocks, water conservation, and increased community watershed knowledge. Five-year goals, with milestones, are described for each
target starting on page 10. These targets are under review currently and will be updated in 2020.

Our five year budget forecast clearly indicates the need for new and sustainable funding sources to enable local co-governance as a viable and effective contributor to local water/shed management as outlined in the Water Sustainability Act Work towards adequate and stable funding is critical to the CWB fulfilling any of the roles for local watershed governance envisioned in the BC Water Sustainability Act.

The report also provides insights into recent achievements, highlighting significant progress in 2019, including helping to secure the political commitment and funding to begin the engineering phase of replacing the weir at Cowichan Lake, scoping a Water Sustainability Plan for the Koksilah watershed, partnering with lake residents to provide better information to citizens through a “Weir Ready” communications campaign, and being officially consulted by a municipal government for the first time on rezoning issue with potential watershed implications.

With the Federal and BC Government’s recent commitments to the recommendations of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, this is an important time to make progress on elevating the CWB’s model of indigenous co-leadership for watershed health, as expressed in this CWB Core Principle.

Nutsamat kws yaay'us tth qa':
We come together as a whole to work together to be stronger as partners for the watershed.

An interest and commitment to water sustainability has provided the catalyst to support this foundational partnership, and an opportunity to learn from each other while working towards improving the health of our watersheds. The Board has an enviable track record of leading collaborative technical teams, creating a positive culture of water conservation, promoting science-based advocacy, and implementing respectful community-based solutions. This Business Plan provides a blueprint for continuing and enhancing these successes in the years to come.

Document Date: 01 Mar 2020
Type : Governance Document