Column What’s up in the Watershed?

Low summer flows in the Cowichan River are a top-priority for the Watershed Board.

By Jill Thompson

Water can be a surprisingly dry topic, but rarely is that the case at the monthly meetings of the Cowichan Watershed Board where elected representatives of Cowichan Tribes and Cowichan Valley Regional District, together with other board members, seek collaborative solutions to water issues.

The Nov. 27 meeting was chaired by Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour. Here are some of the highlights.

Low summer flows in the Cowichan River are a top-priority for the Watershed Board. Kate Miller, CVRD manager of Environmental Services explained the current Cowichan Water Use Plan process and took questions from the board and audience. This builds on decades of study and debate about how to address negative impacts on fish and wildlife, water quality, the Crofton mill, recreation and more.

A public advisory group and several technical committees are working with Compass Resource Group to answer the key question: How much water is needed at what times of year and what available options are best suited to maintain a healthy lake and river in the face of a changing climate? This information will feed into a Water Use Plan scheduled for completion by May.

On the topic of shared “control” or decision-making for watersheds, Rosie Simms from the POLIS Project on Watershed Governance (UVic) presented ideas from their new report, Collaborative Consent and British Columbia’s Fresh Water: Towards Watershed Co-Governance, published with the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources.

This is a new approach to address overlapping legal authority for resources (like water). It is defined as “an ongoing process of committed engagement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous governments to secure mutual consent on proposed pathways forward.”

For communities like ours, the model shows how unresolved views of title and authority do not have to be barriers to collaboration on watershed stewardship. The Cowichan Watershed Board was referenced in the report as an organization that is already demonstrating some elements of collaborative consent in action.

Rapid-fire working group updates rounded out the meeting, highlighting the excellent work being done by many organizations to protect the watershed. Cheri Ayers spoke of a Cowichan Tribes project to address Cowichan Estuary restoration and Tom Rutherford highlighted water quality testing by volunteers with the CWB’s Water Quality working group to identify sources of pollution.

Meetings are the last Monday of every month in the CVRD Boardroom at 9:15 a.m. All are welcome. Learn more at cowichanwatershedboard.ca

Just Posted

Youth rugby players get national team experience

Cowichan’s U12 and U14 girls teams booming

T.W. Paterson column: Patent medicines: for all that ailed you

No reference to patent medicines would be complete without mention of Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound

Caps miss chance to get past Bulldogs in Island standings

Alberni jumps out to big first-period lead over Cowichan

Documentary reminds of many unanswered questions about Granger Taylor’s disappearance

‘Spaceman’ was the name of the CBC documentary but where, really, did the Duncan man go in 1980?

Fifth pick Braylon Lumb leads Cowichan trio at WLA draft

Junior B players Robertson and Martin also selected

VIDEO: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

Cowichan Coffee Time: New faces and chipping in

• Duncan resident Gianpierro (GP) Denomme is the newest volunteer member of… Continue reading

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

No Center of Gravity festival in Kelowna this summer: organizers

COG organizers said the hope is to return to the Okanagan in 2020

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Plecas won’t run in next election if B.C. legislature oversight reforms pass

B.C. Speaker and Abbotsford South MLA says he feels ‘great sympathy’ for Jody Wilson-Raybould

Most Read