The Cowichan River has been drastically affected by drought this year. While water levels are returning to normal

CVRD removes Stage 3 water restrictions

Residents of Lake Cowichan and the surrounding communities no longer need to restrict water consumption as winter rains fall.

The Stage 3 CVRD water restriction was lifted last Oct. 15, much to everyone’s relief.

At the council meeting on Oct. 14, Mayor Ross Forrest, who chaired the Cowichan Waterboard Flows Working Group, reported that the lake had risen about 5 centimetres in 1.5 days, and with more rain in the forecast it’s expected to rise more. At that time Catalyst had opened the weir by 5.5 centimetres.

“The fish were racing each other to get through,” said Forrest at the meeting.

He added that CVRD had agreed that all areas and municipalities should end the restrictions at the same time and that CVRD was to hear from Catalyst about lifting the water restrictions.

With the constant rain, both water levels and salmon counts are rising nicely according to officials.

An email from the Department of Fisheries noted the following numbers as of Oct. 16: 1100 Chinook adults, 715 Jacks, 347 coho adults, 341 Coho jacks, a few pinks and chum. The email noted that these numbers were not exact to the fish, but were close enough to give a good representation.

Brian Houle, environment manager with Catalyst, shared that river flow was at 7-8 cm/s range and rising on Oct. 17. 

Later that day they planned a flow increase to 9 cm/s since the lake level was higher than the rule curve guidance, according to Houle.

Houle said that over the coming days further flow changes might be needed to balance flow and achieve desired lake levels, determined by the rule curve.

Forrest had one final note on the restrictions.

“I would like to thank everyone for their respect of the water restrictions,” wrote Forrest in an email.

“It was a terrible inconvenience for many and we appreciate how people responded under these conditions.”

More information can be found at flowdown.ca or at cowichanwatershedboard.ca.