Cowichan Valley residents can be forgiven for not paying much attention to the announcement that the weir at Cowichan Lake resumed operations for 2020 on March 18.
We were all understandably much more focused at the time on the COVID-19 situation, and while that is ongoing, and continues to dominate our lives, we think the weir operation deserves revisiting, as we begin once again to look past the immediate future.
It is notable that this is early to be starting to control water flow from Cowichan Lake into the Cowichan River, which is what the weir does.
But officials at Catalyst Crofton, which operates the weir, have noted some worrying indications that we could be in for another summer of pumping water over the weir to keep the river flowing if we don’t act now.
In spite of the flooding that created a soggy first few days of March, the lake is not full anymore. Another worrying indication is that the snow pack in the surrounding mountains isn’t much deeper than last year.
If this year follows the pattern of the last few, and we experience a dry summer, we’ll need that extra water held in the lake before it’s over. Even then, it might not be enough.
The message for all of us is that it’s never too early to look at water conservation. While we are all washing our hands (and pretty much everything else) more than we normally would, and we must continue to do so to keep COVID-19 at bay, there are areas where we can look to curb our water use.
Many people have taken the opportunity of staying at home to get out into the garden. While you’re at it, perhaps consider installing a drip or weeper hose watering system, so that when summer hits you’re not wasting water — and you won’t be hit so hard by watering restrictions, either, so it’s a win-win.
Perhaps look to see if you can incorporate some kind of rainwater capture system into your yard planning, also for summer watering purposes. There are many options, from cisterns to barrels that capture the water from your roof. Do some online browsing or even shopping to see what might work for you.
For some of those who live at Lake Cowichan and see the lake every day it can be difficult to envision not having enough water. But it hit home for many last year when it was required that water be pumped out of the lake to feed the river, and water levels dropped dramatically. Seeing is believing.
When it comes to water conservation, every little bit counts.
Stay safe everyone.