Voluntary water conservation is being requested by the province in the face of low flows on a number of fish bearing streams and rivers. (Citizen file)

Dry Koksilah River threatens fish in Cowichan Valley

The Koksilah River is in trouble, with low flows threatening fish populations.

The provincial government has announced a level 3 drought rating and is calling for voluntary 30 per cent water-use reductions for residents of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands as temperatures continue to soar.

Of particular concern is the hot weather negatively affecting stream and river flows and water supplies.

Cowichan Watershed Board executive director Tom Rutherford, a fisheries biologist, said the province’s decision to move to level 3 drought status “makes good sense.”

With significant runs of coho and chum salmon and smaller populations of chinook and steelhead, as well as being of great cultural value to the Cowichan Tribes people, and an irrigation source for farms in lower watersheds, the Koksilah is important to the region’s water system.

But, with no rain since mid-June and no storage in the Koksilah watershed, the flows are very low, he explained. Low flows can mean difficulty swimming, low oxygen levels, and even death for fish.

Rutherford, CWB technical advisory committee co-chair Cheri Ayers, and Cowichan Tribes biologist Tim Kulchyski are meeting with provincial senior aquatic ecologist Jaro Szczot on Sept. 13 to plan next steps for establishing critical flow thresholds for the Koksilah for the long term.

Szczot has been working to set up gauging stations to follow Koksilah flow patterns.

“The CWB looks forward to working with [the province] to establish formal critical flow thresholds for the Koksilah,” Rutherford said. “In the face of climate change, increased population in the watershed and continued land use practices that affect hydrology, establishing critical flow thresholds as defined under the act is necessary in order to minimize negative impacts on the ecological and cultural values in the Koksilah watershed as much as possible.”

A press release issued by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said if a voluntary 30 per cent water-use reduction isn’t sufficient to maintain flows above critical levels, stronger action will be taken.

“Specific actions could include the temporary suspension of water licences or short-term water approvals to restore flows to minimum critical levels in the affected streams. Ministry staff are in the process of directly contacting water users to encourage water conservation and to advise about potential water regulation,” said the release.

At home folks are encouraged to limit outdoor watering, especially to avoid watering in the heat of the day or when it’s particularly windy. Taking shorter showers and turning off the tap also help, as does installing water-efficient showerheads, toilets and taps.

“Water conservation is everyone’s responsibility,” said the release.

To learn more visit the 2017 B.C. Drought Information Portal: http://arcg.is/1W9SMZv

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

Just Posted

RCMP detachments across B.C. are now flying Pride flags. (Submitted photo)
New Pride flag outside Cowichan RCMP detachment demonstrates commitment to inclusion

Pride flag flying outside North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment

NIFA’s Danni Dawson moves the ball past centre during last Sunday’s match against Gorge at Shawnigan Lake School. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
NIFA Pacific opens Div. 3 season

Debut match for new soccer club a loss to Gorge

Kerry Park Islanders players celebrate a goal in a game earlier this season. (Citizen file)
Three-goal first propels Kerry Park Islanders to win over Wolves

Monteith makes 40-plus saves for second straight game

Pilot Kevin Maher participated in a flyover of a ceremony at the Cobble Hill cenotaph on Oct. 22 in a 1940 North American (Noorduyn) Harvard aircraft. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Cobble Hill remembers lost military members with ceremony, flyover

Annual event commemorates those who died in non-combat roles

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Most Read