Harold Norlund of Catalyst Paper addresses the Chamber of Commerce about his company's proposal to pump water into the Cowichan River in the event of a severe drought.

Harold Norlund of Catalyst Paper addresses the Chamber of Commerce about his company's proposal to pump water into the Cowichan River in the event of a severe drought.

Pumps only short-term fix: Catalyst official

The dwindling water levels in the Cowichan River are getting worse each year and pumping water over the Lake Cowichan weir is only

The dwindling water levels in the Cowichan River are getting worse each year and pumping water over the Lake Cowichan weir is only a bandaid solution according to its owner, Catalyst Paper Corporation.

Harold Norlund, the company’s vice president and general manager, delivered this message at a general meeting of the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce last week. He first gave a presentation on Catalyst’s operations before launching into an overview of the river’s water situation and Catalyst’s short-term proposal to pump lake water into the river.

“Pumping is not a good long-term solution,” he repeated throughout his presentation. “Drought conditions are here, the river changes are here. We need to have a conversation about medium and long-term solutions.”

Catalyst owns the Lake Cowichan weir and relies on water from the river in order to maintain operations at its mill in Crofton. The company has submitted an application to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations for water pumping in 2016 and 2017 to keep the river at levels that will allow the mill to stay open and also for salmon to spawn. Water levels are the lowest in September.

“The pumps would have to go by the boat launch, the generator we have to figure out whether…it goes on the museum side or the boat launch side [of the river],” he told the Gazette after his presentation. “The difference for us is, can we get it in there without causing another problem? And we’re trying to reduce noise as much as possible because there are some homes very close to the boat launch.”

The pumps’ diesel generator emits noise at about 70 decibels, and Norlund said Catalyst would look into setting up a temporary wall or sound barrier to “mitigate noise as much as possible” when the generator is running.

Norlund did not know when the provincial government would announce a decision on their application but said the pumps only require about three weeks to install. The operating cost of the pumps is $1 million annually and would be shouldered by Catalyst.

“We need to have a conversation about medium and long-term solutions. And really the long-term solution is we have to raise the weir somehow. And to do that Catalyst is looking to have a partnership with the CVRD and First Nations,” said Norlund.

Ian Morrison, Area F director for the Cowichan Valley Regional District, was present during the talk and joined Norlund at the front of the room during part of the question-and-answer portion of the evening.

“What kind of relationship can be created to ensure we have a strong partnership with business, local government, First Nations? That’s what’s being explored,” Morrison said.

He also noted the prospect of raising the weir still has some area residents concerned they will lose beachfront property due to an increased water level.

“There’s people asking that question,” he said.

According to Norlund, the lake’s high water mark is 1.8 meters above the weir, and it would not be necessary to raise it that much.

“The Cowichan River is a jewel in the valley,” he said, describing the many different uses for the river such as swimming, boating and fishing. “It’s a way of life we want to maintain. The way we take care of [reflects] how we’re going to be measured as a society.”

 

Just Posted

CVRD Area E director Alison Nicholson, right, hiked two hours to Waterfall Camp at the Fairy Creek watershed along with Comox town councillor Nicole Minion and Comox Valley Regional District director Daniel Arbour to meet with old-growth logging activists on Monday, June 7. (Submitted)
Cowichan Valley regional director visits Fairy Creek protest camps

‘They clearly communicated that they are committed to what they are doing’

Tim Wilkinson, who will attempt a double anvil triathlon on Vancouver Island on July 3, poses with his training partner, Shadow, who has been dragged up and down the Nanaimo Parkway many times. (Submitted)
Vancouver Island triathlete takes on ‘double anvil’ for charity

7.6km swim, 360km bike ride, and 84.4km run, all within 36 hours

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

From left: Thomas Kuecks, David Lane, John Ivison, Denis Berger, Rod Gray, and James Kuecks are Cabin Fever. Catch their performance on the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre website. (Ashley Foot photo)
A&E column: Music Festival winners, CVAC awards, and Cabin Fever

The latest from the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. The website for a Broadway theatre showing "Springsteen on Broadway" said it would only allow guests "fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine" — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
No Springsteen for you: AstraZeneca not good enough to qualify for Broadway ticket

Victoria area mayor among those unable to attend New York entertainment due to COVID-19 restriction

The BC Ferries’ website is down for the second time in one week from what they say is likely an overwhelming increase in web traffic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Surging web traffic crashes BC Ferries’ site again

Website down for second time this week

John Furlong told the Vancouver Board of Trade on Feb. 20, 2020 that he thinks the city could and should bid for the 2030 Winter Games. (CP photo)
PODCAST: John Furlong lays out a ‘provincial’ B.C. plan to host the 2030 Winter Olympics

Podcast: Chat includes potential role for Vancouver Island communities

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

Lake Country firefighters made good use of pet respirators they keep on board June 17, 2021. (District of Lake Country)
PHOTOS: 11 dogs rescued, home destroyed in large blaze in Okanagan

Home deemed a total loss, cause remains unknown but crews thankful for pet respirators

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Family homeless after fire rips through Chilliwack house

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

Most Read