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Volunteers help stranded fish on Cowichan River

Fry found near the Stoltz Pool area
Volunteers step up to relocate stranded fish in Cowichan River. (Citizen file photo)

Stranded young fish near the Stoltz Pool area on Cowichan River were spotted last week, and volunteers were soon on scene to help move the emerging fry back to the river’s main stream from the drying creek beds, according to Brian Houle.

Houle, the environment manager at the Catalyst Crofton mill which owns and operates the weir in Lake Cowichan, said the incident highlights the fact that volunteers are actively attending the river to both observe if stranding is occurring, and taking action to transport emerging fry to the main stem of the river.

“Prior to the observation of stranding near Stoltz Pool, a key volunteer, Parker Jefferson, had been at this area and assisted with relocating stranded fish back to main stem,” Houle said.

“A return visit to this area of the river was planned by Parker and we very much appreciated that Parker is monitoring conditions in this section of the river and qualified to take required actions. The upper river is being monitored closely by Joe Saysell, and again, it’s very much appreciated that Joe continues to volunteer his time to observe and take action when fish stranding is observed.”


Houle said if people observe unusual conditions in the watershed, it’s important to report those observations as that allows actions to be taken, if needed.

“Reporting observations is very helpful and please be aware that special qualifications are needed to take actions like the relocation of fry from side channels,” he said.

As for water levels in Cowichan Lake as the warmer weather approaches, Houle said the strategy to reduce water flows over the weir during the past several weeks has resulted in the lake being 100 per cent full.

He said a review of water level conditions with regulators took place on April 23 to set up operating guidance for the weir during May and June.


Earlier control of the water levels in the lake and river this year are being put in place in an effort to mitigate the impacts of drought conditions which could impact the area again this summer.

The main objective for 2024 is to ensure there is enough water in Cowichan Lake to support the water system through to mid-September.

“This new objective is expected to result in the need for river flows to be reduced to below the ideal 15 cubic metres per second through May and out to June 15,” Houle said.

“[Rain was forecast through much of last week], but then the prediction is dry weather, but still cool weather which will help keep snow pack as snow. The snow pack will begin to melt in the coming weeks as it does each year at this time and that will help to keep the lake at 100 per cent full.”

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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