Year in Review: Drought had Valley thirsting for rainfall

Water — specifically a lack of it — was big news through the spring, summer and fall of 2015.

Water — specifically a lack of it — was big news through the spring, summer and fall of 2015.

Water watchers began warning Cowichan Valley residents even before the days began to warm from winter’s chill that we were most likely facing a significant drought again over the summer and into fall, and their prognostications proved to be true.

By the end of June the provincial River Forecast Centre had issued low streamflow advisories for the Koksilah, Chemainus and Cowichan Rivers.

This in spite of the fact that, in anticipation of a bad year, officials started a month earlier than usual limiting the amount of water coming out of Cowichan Lake into the Cowichan River through the weir.

There was no snow pack, after a warm winter, to augment flows.

“We have to manage a long dry season with the water that’s behind the weir,” Cowichan Valley Regional District chair Jon Lefebure said. “We’re trying to save it because we have to be ready for the worst case scenario. That’s the kind of planning we have to do.”

The Cowichan Watershed Board presented the Valley with its own water superhero, Flo, who undertook an education campaign, and even starred in a series of articles for the ‘Citizen’ where she interviewed residents who are in the forefront of water conservation. Water conservation was going to be crucial to keeping the river running, so the CVRD also launched a new website full of ideas on ways residents could save water.

By the end of August, Catalyst Paper, the operator of the weir, reduced river flows to 4.7 cubic metres per second.

“We’re to the same flow we were at last year at this time. As long as we continue to get an annual drought we’ll be in this situation of annual reductions,” warned Brian Houle, Catalys Crofton’s environment manager.

The rains finally did come in the fall, but the CVRD, and Catalyst, weren’t done with the subject.

Catalyst has put forward a proposal to install pumps to allow them to pump water from behind the weir to aid with water flows during what everyone is expecting will be the years of summer droughts to come.

The CVRD, meanwhile, is looking seriously at the idea of taking steps to, in partnership with other groups, take more control over the Cowichan watershed.

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

Just Posted

CVRD reopening head office, playgrounds, washrooms and more

Move part of staged reopening plan for all district facilities

Editorial: What comes next for the homeless?

We hope there is a plan in the works to make this housing-for-all push more permanent.

Paintings stolen from Honeymoon Bay studio returned

Hutchings said he received a lot of feedback from the community

3 people found violating court imposed curfews in Cowichan

People are placed on curfews for a variety of public safety reasons.

No parking on Thain Road, Shawnigan police remind

Warmer weather brings complaints near Cobble Hill quarry

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

B.C. woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Horgan calls for national anti-racism program; will pitch idea to PM, premiers

Premier John Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States

Chilliwack dad rescues two young daughters after truck plunges into lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

Most Read