Cowichan Valley Regional District vote allows raising weir

As water levels continue to drop in the Cowichan River with no significant rainfall in sight, the Cowichan Valley Regional District board voted Wednesday to take action to try to prevent such a crisis in the future.

Seven years after it was completed, directors finally voted to endorse the Cowichan Basin Water Management Plan’s last recommendation to store and/or access more water in Cowichan Lake during the winter and spring for use during the dry summer and fall months.

This will likely mean raising the weir between Cowichan Lake and the Cowichan River, a plan that has always been controversial with a small group of lakefront property owners. It also opens the door to installing pumps for use in the summer and fall.

Jacob Ellis, senior policy advisor for the CVRD presented the case to the regional services committee, which is comprised of the CVRD board members.

A flow of seven cubic metres per second is the minimum required to sustain a healthy habitat for fish, provide sewage dilution.

It’s also the best for maintaining human uses, as well as feeding Catalyst mill operations in Crofton.

To try to prevent the river from running dry, which is in danger of happening next month if rainfall does not occur, that flow has already been significantly reduced.

Over the years, the river has seen an increasing number of days where it has fallen below that minimum. One problem is inflow of water into the lake.

"Summer flows have declined 35 per cent since 1955," Ellis pointed out. "We don’t have enough water in Cowichan Lake to sustain adequate river flows."

Climate change is the culprit for many of the problems, as it has led to lower than normal snow packs and longer periods of drought.

Dir. Mel Dorey also pointed out that clearcut logging around the lake has had a negative impact, as the trees help to hold more water in the ground and prevent flooding, and provide shade which holds snow in place for longer. Further, bare hillsides are prone to higher winds that dry out the landscape.

While in the past the issue of raising the weir has been contentious enough to prevent the board from making a decision, it passed easily Wednesday.

Dir. Tim McGonigle, representing the Town of Lake Cowichan, was the lone vote against.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cowichan Valley food banks reopen on a limited basis

CMS handing out hampers, Basket Society doing hampers and sandwiches

Province restricts open burning in Cowichan Valley until April 15

Measure meant to assist fight against COVID-19

What you said: Shingles vaccine worthy of consideration

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash

Kevin Timothy to plead guilty to animal cruelty charge

He will appear at the Duncan courthouse on March 24

Minister and Halalt First Nation chief consult on effects of recent flooding

Community heavily impacted with many damaged and uninhabitable homes

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

Most Read