Low flow warnings in effect for Cowichan Valley’s rivers

Desperately dry conditions forced the provincial River Forecast Centre to issue low streamflow advisories on Monday, June 22, at 4 p.m. for the Koksilah, Chemainus and Cowichan rivers.

The River Forecast Centre sent out an advisory for all of Vancouver Island because a combination of low or non-existent snow packs over the winter, followed by an early onset of warm conditions has led to worrying low levels in two Valley rivers and others across the Island.

Current flows "are more typical of late-August conditions, with many rivers approaching, or are below, average annual low flow level," a release from the Centre stated, echoing the words of many Cowichan Valley river watchers.

The Koksilah River – an unregulated watercourse – is experiencing extremelow stream flow conditions.

At Cowichan Station, the Koksilah is currently flowing at 0.14 cubic metres per second, which is 13 per cent of the median flow and below the recorded minimum flow for this period of time.

The also unregulated Chemainus River is marginally better, with current conditions called "seasonally low".

Checked near Westholme, the Chemainus River is currently flowing at 0.86 cubic metres per second, which is 25 per cent of the median flow and just above the recorded minimum flow for the period of time, according to the Centre.

The Cowichan River is a regulated water course and is currently flowing near

Duncan at 5.88 cubic metres per second, which is 57 per cent of the median flow, above the recorded minimum flow for the period of time.

Flows in the Cowichan River are controlled by a weir at Lake Cowichan. However, Environment Canada is forecasting less than 10 mm of rainfall on Vancouver Island over the next 10 days and continued warmer-than-normal temperatures.

Highs of 33 degrees are expected on Sunday in the Cowichan Valley.

"With little rain and continued warm weather, coupled with negligible remaining snow melt runoff, it is expected streams will continue to decrease through to early July," the River Forecast Centre announced.

The centre will continue to monitor conditions and will provide updates as conditions warrant.

For streamflow conditions in other parts of the province, visit the River Forecast Centre’s Low Streamflow Bulletins and Advisories webpage.

Folks planning to travel on the Island should note that there are extreme lowflow conditions at Tofino Creek, Brown’s River near Courtenay and Gold River.

Seasonally low streamflow can be found in the Tsolum River, Oyster River, San Juan River near Port Renfrew, Carnation Creek and Pugh Creek near Nahwitti Lake.

Other regulated streams that are being watched closely for streamflow are the Englishman River, Little Qualicum River, Sproat River, Quinsam River and Salmon River near Sayward.