Cowichan Watershed Board, May 28, 2016
(Duncan, BC) Due to a very warm dry spring, the Cowichan Watershed is experiencing the lowest water levels ever witnessed at this time. While we started the year with a healthier snowpack, the warm April weather melted it quickly. We depend on the weir on Lake Cowichan to capture spring rains and run-off but it is not tall enough to hold adequate water to supply the river for the whole summer. The lake is now too low to sustain the recommended min. 7 cubic metres per second (cms) river flow rate through the summer unless significantly more rain falls through the season. As a result, permission has now been granted to reduce the river flow from the weir to 4.5 cms in an attempt to keep the river wetted throughout the summer. This has undesirable consequences for local ecology, recreation, and industry but overall it is believed to be preferable to letting the river run dry. Discussions and studies are in process to raise the weir on Cowichan Lake to help with this in future years and the Watershed Board is actively working to support this strategy.