We all use water—for drinking, bathing, watering the garden, and doing laundry. Water is essential for swimming and boating; for growing forests; for agriculture; for waste treatment; and for industry. Fish and other wildlife also depend on water to survive. But is there enough for all our needs, both now and in the future?

In recent dry years, low summer water levels in the Cowichan River have put salmon populations at serious risk and threatened closure of the Paper Excellence Crofton pulp and paper mill. Low water levels also mean less water reaching the aquifer that supplies Duncan and other communities in the Cowichan Valley, and less water to dilute treated sewage discharges in the river. At the same time, the population and the economy of the Cowichan Valley is growing, creating increasing demands for adequate, clean water supplies. Climate change has affected rainfall patterns and precipitation levels for our region, increasing water management challenges.

So how do we make sure there is enough water for all our needs today and in the future? To help answer that question, a partnership of government, industry, First Nations and community interests worked together in 2009 to develop the Cowichan Basin Water Management Plan. Following Provincial guidelines, a Water Use Plan Public Advisory Group was formed in 2018. The outcome of these initiatives is a recommendation to raise the weir at Cowichan Lake to increase the water storage and a condition of that recommendation is that a shoreline assessment to study the effects of raising the weir be conducted.