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Cowichan Tribes and Province Sign Watershed Sustainability Agreement

Cowichan Tribes and the province have signed an agreement to develop a sustainability plan for the Koksilah River watershed.

The agreement with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is the first of its kind in BC.

The plan will address concerns about water availability, low river flows, critical fish habitat, Indigenous cultural resources, and other issues.

Chief Lydia Hwitsum says the Water Sustainability Plan is a step towards taking better care of the watershed, which is now suffering damage caused by drought and flooding.

Hwitsum says the changes in the river affect salmon, homes, cultural resources, the economy, and the community.

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She says the agreement helps “plan for the future while restoring and rebuilding the watershed to a healthier condition.”

Larry George, Director of Land and Self Governance at Cowichan Tribes, says it’s a “new approach to watershed management, and Cowichan Tribes is excited to be embarking
on this important work with the Province.”

Chief Hwitsum says they have always had the responsibility to care for the land and water, and are committed to working with the government and everyone affected.

Cowichan Tribes says summer flows in the Koksilah River have been exceptionally low in recent years at times when demand for water is the greatest.

This threatens the survival of fish populations and the aquatic ecosystem.

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