Water levels because weir not managed properly year-round
Re: “Water levels in Cowichan Lake ‘dire’,” (Citizen, May 29)
In the article Robert Barron quotes Tom Rutherford, executive director of the Cowichan Watershed Board: “We’re working hard to find the means to increase the storage capacity in the lake, but it’s a fact that climate change is here and water inflow into the lake has been reduced by one-third over the last 30 years.” Mr. Rutherford concludes that, “The weir on the lake (that separates Cowichan Lake from the Cowichan River) must be raised, and raised soon.”
I do agree with some of the points Mr. Rutherford has made. Our climate is changing. I also agree that “…we can’t keep doing the same things and expect miracles to happen.” I disagree with Mr. Rutherford that the sole solution is raising the weir.
There has been plenty of water in and through Cowichan Lake and into Cowichan River over the course of the winter. In December 2018, during the storm which toppled many trees and downed power lines, leaving Youbou without power for four days, the lake was several feet higher than what has become known as full lake storage. Property owners around the lake suffered significant damage due to the high lake level and wave action. All the winter water was allowed to drain down the Cowichan River with the weir wide open, until it was well below the top of the weir. It wouldn’t matter if the weir was 10 feet higher than it is now, if the gates are left wide open, the water will drain out of the lake.
The problem is that there is no lake level management in the winter months. We have watched the summer lake level suffer in similar ways over the past number of years. There is lots of water in the lake in the winter and, rather than monitoring and managing it, the water is permitted to flow out to the ocean. In coming years, unless there is proper management of the weir throughout the year, the same thing will happen.
I am not in support of spending millions of taxpayer dollars to build an unnecessary weir. The weir which is in place must be managed properly, 365 days a year.