I am voting to secure our watersheds

We also need the resources in place to get the job done.

letters

I am voting to secure our watersheds

The Cowichan’s freshwater sources, our watersheds, are the foundation of our health, well-being and natural wealth.

The Cowichan and Koksilah rivers support vital salmon populations such as Chinook, coho and chum, along with steelhead and cutthroat trout.

Many of our homes are built on their banks.

Thousands of our jobs depend on them.

Our food is grown by irrigation from these waters and many of us rely on them for our drinking water.

Yet all of this is threatened by drought, climate change, human impacts and a lack of knowledge about how much groundwater we have available.

With the provincial election happening on Oct. 24, I want to know that our local candidates are taking water seriously.

The Cowichan has been a leader within the province when it comes to local watershed decision-making through both the Cowichan Watershed Board and the recently signed agreement between Cowichan Tribes and the provincial government to develop and implement a water sustainability plan for the Koksilah watershed.

The Cowichan Water Use Plan was recently created by a committee of local NGOs, First Nations, conservation groups and all levels of government in order to enhance water security and watershed health into the future.

We need a commitment by all parties to continue, and deepen, the work of reconciliation and local control over the security of our watersheds.

We need to see a commitment to independent oversight of our watersheds in order to implement, monitor, and enforce watershed security regulations within the Cowichan and across the province.

We also need the resources in place to get the job done. A province-wide, billion dollar B.C. Watershed Security Fund could fund local and regionally-led clean water initiatives and create good, sustainable, local jobs for British Columbians of all ages and backgrounds in watershed restoration, monitoring, technology, training and education.

We don’t need another situation like in August of 2019, when low water levels led to the province having to issue an order to temporarily suspend industrial water use around the Koksilah. In the Cowichan, pumping was required in order to keep the river flowing. Or as we’ve seen in other dry years, the need to truck salmon up the river due to dire drought conditions.

We need a commitment to supporting our community in properly managing our shared waters.

A message for all the candidates: my vote, along with many others in our community, depends on your commitment to secure B.C.’s fresh water sources, our watersheds.

Parker Jefferson

Duncan

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