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Cowichan Lake Weir Replacement Funding in Budget 2024

The 2024 provincial budget includes funding to help replace the Cowichan Lake weir. 


During the budget speech in the legislature, BC Finance Minister Katrine Conroy announced funding for several priority infrastructure projects and programs to decrease flood risks and strengthen drought resiliency, including $14 million for the weir project. 


In June of last year, Cowichan Tribes Chief Lydia Hwitsum wrote a letter to the province asking for a funding commitment to match money promised by the federal government. 


The Cowichan Lake weir was built in 1957, but because of declining annual snow packs due to climate change, and inadequate storage capacity in the lake, a plan was developed to replace the weir with one that is 70 centimetres higher. 


Drought conditions early in the summer of 2023 forced the flow of water from Cowichan Lake into the river to be reduced to 4.5 cubic metres per second, but by early September the level of Cowichan Lake had dropped enough that it became necessary to pump water over the weir to maintain the flow into the river for migrating salmon. 


The provincial budget includes $83 million to expand the Agriculture Water Infrastructure Program to help farmers and ranchers manage, collect, transport and store water for agriculture and irrigation purposes. 


There is also $10 million to increase water storage and better sustain the required environmental water flow of Saint Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island by raising the height of the dam. 

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