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.

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

North Cowichan’s committee of the whole have rejected staff’s recommendation to limit the use of fireworks to Halloween. (File photo)
North Cowichan rejects limiting fireworks to Halloween

Municipality decides staff recommendation would be unpopular

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

CVRD Area E director Alison Nicholson, right, hiked two hours to Waterfall Camp at the Fairy Creek watershed along with Comox town councillor Nicole Minion and Comox Valley Regional District director Daniel Arbour to meet with old-growth logging activists on Monday, June 7. (Submitted)
Cowichan Valley regional director visits Fairy Creek protest camps

‘They clearly communicated that they are committed to what they are doing’

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

Most Read