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

Just Posted

Multi-vehicle crash along the Malahat leaves traffic crawling

Southbound lane heavily delayed at Malahat Summit

Shawnigan Lake’s Maggie Banks wins BC Games’ top prize

Rubgy star honoured with W.R. Bennett Award and scholarship

Duncan wrestler Ashton Combdon beats the odds to medal at BC Summer Games

Combdon joins CVWC teammates Talon Hird and Hayley Bye-Pace on the podium

Family effort helps Duncan swimmer Mary Paridaen van Veen to gold at BC Summer Games

Mom, dad and sister all members of the Cowichan Valley swimming community

Phase one of Maritime Centre pier reconstruction complete

To complete the full scope of the survey’s recommendations the cost was estimated at $500,000.

BC Games: Day 3 wrap and closing ceremonies

The torch in the Cowichan Valley has been extinguished as Fort St. John gets ready to host the 2020 BC Winter Games

Coming up in Cowichan: Medicine walk

Sylvester will teach participants about traditional uses for many of the plants that grow naturally

Police confirm girl, 8 others injured in Toronto shooting; shooter dead

Paramedics said many of the victims in Danforth, including a child, were rushed to trauma centres

Why do they do it? Coaches guide kids to wins, personal bests at the BC Games

Behind the 2,300 B.C. athletes are the 450 coaches who dedicate time to help train, compete

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Lower Mainland teams battle for baseball gold at BC Games

Vancouver Coastal squeaked out a 3-2 win against Fraser Valley

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw people signed an agreement-in-principle with the B.C. government

The signing ceremony, at the Eliza Archie Memorial School, was 25 years in the making

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Francesco Molinari wins British Open at Carnoustie

It is his first win at a major and the first by an Italian

Most Read