Column What’s up in the Watershed?

Column What’s up in the Watershed?

Low summer flows in the Cowichan River are a top-priority for the Watershed Board.

By Jill Thompson

Water can be a surprisingly dry topic, but rarely is that the case at the monthly meetings of the Cowichan Watershed Board where elected representatives of Cowichan Tribes and Cowichan Valley Regional District, together with other board members, seek collaborative solutions to water issues.

The Nov. 27 meeting was chaired by Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour. Here are some of the highlights.

Low summer flows in the Cowichan River are a top-priority for the Watershed Board. Kate Miller, CVRD manager of Environmental Services explained the current Cowichan Water Use Plan process and took questions from the board and audience. This builds on decades of study and debate about how to address negative impacts on fish and wildlife, water quality, the Crofton mill, recreation and more.

A public advisory group and several technical committees are working with Compass Resource Group to answer the key question: How much water is needed at what times of year and what available options are best suited to maintain a healthy lake and river in the face of a changing climate? This information will feed into a Water Use Plan scheduled for completion by May.

On the topic of shared “control” or decision-making for watersheds, Rosie Simms from the POLIS Project on Watershed Governance (UVic) presented ideas from their new report, Collaborative Consent and British Columbia’s Fresh Water: Towards Watershed Co-Governance, published with the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources.

This is a new approach to address overlapping legal authority for resources (like water). It is defined as “an ongoing process of committed engagement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous governments to secure mutual consent on proposed pathways forward.”

For communities like ours, the model shows how unresolved views of title and authority do not have to be barriers to collaboration on watershed stewardship. The Cowichan Watershed Board was referenced in the report as an organization that is already demonstrating some elements of collaborative consent in action.

Rapid-fire working group updates rounded out the meeting, highlighting the excellent work being done by many organizations to protect the watershed. Cheri Ayers spoke of a Cowichan Tribes project to address Cowichan Estuary restoration and Tom Rutherford highlighted water quality testing by volunteers with the CWB’s Water Quality working group to identify sources of pollution.

Meetings are the last Monday of every month in the CVRD Boardroom at 9:15 a.m. All are welcome. Learn more at cowichanwatershedboard.ca

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

Just Posted

A graphic design of the new RCMP detachment which will be located on a five-acre property bordering Ford Road and Drinkwater Road. (File graphic)
Heavy trucks not allowed shortcut during construction of RCMP detachment

North Cowichan won’t allow heavy trucks on Drinkwater Road where not designated

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Laketown Ranch to welcome campers this summer

Sunfest site will provide camping amenities between May and September

‘I chose my children’s breakfasts purely based on what dishes would fit best into the dishwasher.’ (Bobbi Venier photo)
Sarah Simpson Column: Delayed gratification and the benefits of efficiency

I was driving with just my daughter the other day and we… Continue reading

Wayne Allen's graduation photo from Chemainus Secondary School. (Photo submitted)
Brother charged with murder in Chemainus teenager’s Ontario death

Jesse James Allen stands accused in the death of Wayne Allen, a 2020 Chemainus Secondary grad

The frequent disruptions to water service in Chemainus are expected to be a lot less after North Cowichan replaces the Smiley Road water main. (File photo)
Smiley Road water main in Chemainus to be replaced

$890,000 project expected to be completed this spring

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

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

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

A crossover utility vehicle smashed through the front of a business on Bowen Road on Friday evening. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Vehicle smashes all the way inside business in Nanaimo

No serious injuries reported after incident at Venue Financial Centres on Friday

Most Read