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

Just Posted

Upgrade project on Chemainus Road set to begin

Busines community concerned about disruptions

Burning season has arrived in the Cowichan Valley Regional District, but beware of bylaws

It’s officially burning season in the Cowichan Valley Regional District, as residents… Continue reading

Francophone parents hoping to set up a French school in the Valley

Their children have a right to be educated in French, these parents say

UPDATE: Missing Duncan teen Cera Qwulshemut found safe

15-year-old First Nations girl missing from in front of Shoppers Drug Mart

VIDEO: Climate change, veterans, tax cuts: it was all there at Lake Cowichan all-candidates debate

All six candidates faced off in the final Cowichan Valley debate of this federal election season

Alcohol a possible factor in crash that killed 17-year-old girl near Williams Lake

A pickup truck left the road and rolled over on Highway 20 on the weekend

Rare bird spotted in Victoria draws enthusiasts from across the continent

It’s the first time a yellow-browed warbler has been reported on the mainland of North America

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Climate activist Greta Thunberg’s mural defaced in Edmonton

The eyes on the portrait were blacked out

App designed to help cut waste and grocery bills

Food security advocates say addressing poverty is ultimate key

Report suggests new BC Ferries terminal near YVR

Metro Vancouver currently has two ferry terminals at northern and southern reaches

B.C. scouting group’s tent destroyed by black bear on Thanksgiving

The Richmond-based Sea Dragon Sea Scouts were camping at Mount Seymour Provincial Park

Environment Canada issues gale warnings for western Vancouver Island

Gale warnings in effect for most of Vancouver Island and west coast Mainland

Most Read