As we head toward another drought season, the provincial government understands the need to raise the Cowichan Weir.
Just last week Brian Houle, the Manager of Environment with Catalyst’s Crofton Division indicated that the lake level is 30 percent capacity and its lowest level has been 28 percent.
The snowpack is about a quarter of what is deemed normal.
However, good news may be on the way, as we are supposed to get some rain this weekend and Cowichan Watershed Board member David Slade said he’s hoping funding will start pouring in and construction will be set to begin this summer.
“There is a bunch of engineering work that is still to be done and our hope and expectation is that that work is going to be done this summer,” said Slade. “We’re hoping that by the end of this summer we will be shovel-ready for money and construction to begin.”
Cowichan Valley Green Party MLA Sonia Furstenau said construction is more likely to start at this time next year.
“I’m not expecting to see construction this year but, I am hoping that by the end of this year we have a plan laid out and a pathway to seeing the construction of a new weir very soon,” said Furstenau. “I would hope the construction would start within a year from now but, there is a lot of work to be done between now and then.”
Slade said the system is crucial for salmon stocks. Furstenau added that all the players at the table know how important it is to raise the weir.
“Ultimately, there is an agreement between everybody at the table that we do need to be able to store more water in Lake Cowichan, that’s the ultimate goal,” said Furstenau. “Now, it’s about working out the steps to get there and I am heartened by the meetings that I’ve had recently, in which there is an acknowledgement about how serious this is and an acknowledgement that it is going to have to be finding the pathway of working together to get this outcome.”
Droughts are the new normal in the Cowichan Valley, specifically in Cowichan Lake and the Cowichan River.