Water had to pumped over the weir at Cowichan lake for the first time last year due drought conditions. (File photo)

Weir in Cowichan Lake begins operations early this year

Water shortages feared again in 2020

The weir at Cowichan Lake resumed operations for the 2020 season on March 18.

Brian Houle is the environmental manager for Catalyst Crofton which operates the weir that regulates the flow of water from the lake to the river in order to sustain a minimum flow in the river through the entire dry season.

He said a review of current conditions at Cowichan Lake show the lake is currently less than full, the snow pack in the surrounding mountains is just a small amount more than last year, and the weather forecast is calling for no significant rainfall during the next two weeks.

RELATED STORY: COWICHAN LAKE STILL NOT FULL AFTER SUMMER DROUGHT

“Everything remains the same today [March 17] except there is now substantial rainfall predicted for the week after next and, if I could depend on that rainfall, early control could have been delayed,” Houle said.

“From our experience in 2019, it is possible the region will receive little to no rainfall during the coming five months and, on that basis, and with an abundance of caution, weir operations will begin to store water early this year. While it is likely [as of March 17] that early control will again not be needed this year, weather is not predictable enough and with the low snow pack in the mountains, we need to store as much water as possible.”

Catalyst had to resort to pumping water into Cowichan River over the weir on Aug. 29, 2019, to maintain water flows in the river.

RELATED STORY: WATER PUMPING INTO COWICHAN RIVER TO BEGIN THURSDAY

It was the first time the company, which depends on water from the Cowichan River to run its pulp and paper mill operations in Crofton, has had to take such action since the weir was first constructed in the 1950s.

The region was experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades at the time and water basins in the region, including Cowichan Lake, were only getting about two-thirds of the water they used to get in spring and summer.

Houle said the first action that will take place on Wednesday will be to lower the two boat lock gates at the weir.

He said that as soon as two days after the boat lock gates are lowered, the control gates on the south side of the weir can begin to operate and reduce the flow in the Cowichan River down to the seasonal requirement of 25 cubic meters per second.

RELATED STORY: PUMPS AT COWICHAN LAKE SHUT DOWN

“In the event that spring rainfall and snowmelt cause the lake level to rise to above full supply, the spill gates will be adjusted to release more water and to control the lake level to full supply; but not over full,” Houle said.

The monitoring and regulation of Cowichan Lake and Cowichan River’s water levels is part of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development’s ongoing commitment to maintain stream flows for fish, First Nations, water licence holders and recreational water users.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Water

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Extension given for Cowichan region homeless tenting sites

Meeting with BC Housing to determine the next step

Business notes: Realtors raise $10,000 for Nourish Cowichan

The latest from Cowichan’s business community

North Cowichan mayor answers questions about new RCMP detachment

The current building went up in 1980, when there were 30 people working there.

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses claim against Island Corridor Foundation

Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation was seeking return of reserve land as railway sits unused

UPDATE: Military reservist facing 22 charges after allegedly ramming gates at Rideau Hall

The man, who police have not yet officially identified, will be charged with multiple offences

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

White-throated sparrows have changed their tune, B.C. study unveils

Study marks an unprecedented development scientists say has caused them to sit up and take note

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

Most Read