Pumping over the weir in Cowichan Lake will not be required this summer. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Pumping over the weir in Cowichan Lake will not be required this summer. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Editorial: 2020 respite doesn’t mean we can take water for granted

It’s not something we can take as a sign of things to come

There are a lot of things we aren’t hearing about this year, that normally take up space in our public discourse, so we can be excused for not particularly noticing any one missing item.

Among the things that haven’t been in the news that would usually be splashed across our front pages are Sunfest, Lake Days, and the Youbou Regatta — all of which were cancelled or postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous other community events from Canada Day gatherings to Honeymoon Bay Day have likewise left a hole in our lives.

But there is one item not related to COVID that isn’t happening this year, and that’s the discussion of what our drought levels are and whether the pumps will have to start up to keep the Cowichan River flowing. The reason for that? An unusually wet spring and summer that have left the river flowing just fine to date. It is anticipated that’s not going to change, either, and the pumps will remain silent.

For at least the last 10 years, by the time we get to August our rivers, streams and lakes have been in dire shape due to drought. The Chemainus, Koksilah and Cowichan rivers have been the subject of numerous advisories and warnings in the last several years, with last year being particularly bad. Restrictions were put in place by the province in the Koksilah watershed for the first time last summer, for example, and pumps at the Cowichan Lake weir pushed water into the river to keep it flowing.

We’re getting a reprieve this summer, which all of us, weary and worried by the pandemic, surely appreciate. But it’s not something we can take as a sign of things to come, or a reason to start taking our water for granted. While we have this reprieve, we should be looking at ways that we can conserve so when future droughts inevitably come along we are more prepared. That means everything from regional solutions like planning for the installation of a new, taller weir at the lake to store the winter’s water, to individual efforts that can range from drip or weeper hose water systems for gardens to rainwater collection systems and getting into the habit of conservation. This last can include everything from shorter showers to simply turning off the tap while we wash our dishes or brush our teeth.

We can’t afford to let one year’s respite see a return to bad habits or the mindset that our water supplies are an infinite resource.

EditorialsWater

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

Just Posted

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Do you know someone who should not be driving?

We are currently living about 10 years longer than our ability to drive safely.

Chris Wilkinson
Chris Wilkinson column: Time to slow down to speed up

In a society where we learn (are forced?) to multitask like crazy

A COVID-19 exposure has been reported at Shawnigan Lake School. (Citizen file photo)
Island Health reports COVID-19 exposure at Shawnigan Lake School

Shawnigan Lake School has been added to the list of schools in… Continue reading

Peas are great to grow in the garden, but a trellis for them in an A frame shape will offer more portability and wind resistance. (Citizen file)
Mary Lowther column: Making a foldable pea trellis on winter agenda

My previous methods required starting anew every spring

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: Books open up a world of discovery

We try to eat dinner as a family every night. It happens… Continue reading

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

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

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Most Read