Cowichan water experts hope for cold weather

A lack of snow pack on the local mountains doesn’t necessarily mean that the Valley is faced with another Cowichan River crisis again this year but the possibility is worrying to water watchers.

"It doesn’t look good right now," said Rodger Hunter of the Cowichan Watershed Board.

"I’m just the opposite of everyone else. I hope we get some miserable cold weather now."

Measurements taken at a snow course – a cluster of locations used to measure snow so a comparison can be assembled over years and a correlation made with lake levels in the spring – will help keep track of what is going on but a good fall of snow that stays in place would be helpful right now.

"We put our snow course up there on Dec. 28. And there is a snow pillow going up there, too."

A snow pillow measures the water equivalent of a quantity of snow.

"We didn’t get the money for that until recently so one of the advantages of this warmer weather is we can now install it," he said.

"At this time last year, we didn’t have much of a snow pack either and we saw what happened," he said. But, Hunter added, there is a precedent for something quite different.

"If you look back at the record dry summer of 1998, it was followed by a really wet summer in 1999," he said.

Meanwhile, the membership of the watershed board is changing because of the local elections last fall.

"Both Cowichan Tribes and the Cowichan Valley Regional District will be in on the naming of the new board," Hunter said. "The terms of the CVRD members and the members at large and the representatives from the federal and provincial governments are all up."

Hunter himself is scheduled to meet this week with representatives from the Catalyst mill at Crofton – another important player in the Cowichan River scenario – to study weather forecasts to help plan for the future.