New weir must be top priority

That perennial summer drought — and now winter flooding — happens during our weather’s new normal

New weir must be top priority

Dear CVRD chairman and directors:

I realize and appreciate our busy board currently has many priorities and budgetary fires to snuff.

However, one of the largest blazes on our horizon is the sad environmental state of our heritage Cowichan River and its bankrupt summer-flow rates threatening our precious salmon stocks and their ecological habitat.

That perennial summer drought — and now winter flooding — happens during our weather’s new normal, fuelled by worsening climate-change — a local and global crisis wisely recognized by our CVRD board, and recently by our smart School Distrcit 79 trustees.

Ironically, we now have a flooding emergency across our valley, water that will be sorely needed come this summer to help salmon swim upriver to spawn.

Seems like yesterday local streamkeepers and many other volunteer stakeholders were again capturing salmon and trucking them upstream to spawn among scarce pools in a dry riverbed.

This emergency rescue-and-release to spawn has sadly become an annual event with Mother Nature thankfully saving our struggling river with fall rainstorms.

I implore our board and municipalities against becoming complacent about what many experts say could eventually be the demise of our beloved Cowichan River.

We need a new weir now on Cowichan Lake to capture all this flood water — coursing to Cowichan Bay — that will doubtless be needed for controlling constant flow rates this summer.

Those flows, under two provincial permits to the Crofton pulp-and-paper mill, are crucial to preserving our salmon run, and maintaining volumes and jobs at the mill.

Unfortunately, years of conversation — not construction — about that new weir continues among CVRD directors, mill managers, Cowichan Tribes, stakeholders, the province and the feds.

I raise this grim, well-known reality with our understanding board as summer droughts could understandably be out of sight, and out of mind amid pressing, current concerns.

That was the case last February, and soon gave way to drought conditions that arguably started last June, not basically in August as in previous years.

I strongly urge our board to make action to build our new weir a top priority, in tandem with our current flooding emergency.

In Nature’s books, our summer drought season is just around the corner.

Peter W. Rusland,


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

Just Posted

CVRD requests rainstorm, flood photos via online tool

Officials want to know more about how that type of event impacted the region as a whole.

Bluegrass Festival in Cowichan offering savings for early birds

The annual Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival will run from June 19 to 21

Drivesmart column: Let’s block the road

Police resources to cope with the size of the protest group is an important consideration.

Coming up in Cowichan: Meet the Wounded Warriors

Wounded Warrior Run stops at Legion The Royal Canadian Legion Malahat District… Continue reading

Cowichan climber off to Olympic qualifier

Brennan Doyle competing for Pan Am Championship

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Massive early-morning blaze destroys Vancouver Island home

Firefighters from three departments called in to battle fire at unoccupied residence

First win, fifth win highlight BC Senior Curling finals

Donna Mychaluk wins first title after finishing second five times; Wes Craig takes fifth crown

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read