This Project (Weir Design and Shoreline Assessment) officially ends today along with my end of my current work term. These two pieces of work help provide key pieces of the puzzle as we move forward to make a final proposal. The weir design gives us an idea of feasibility, time to construct and approximate costs of the new capital works. It also utilizes the latest regulations and earthquake codes. The new design, most importantly, will allow for more water storage to ensure flow throughout our longer, hotter and dryer summers which will give maximum opportunity for the health of the river and all the fish and fauna that rely upon it. Another key aspect of the new design is that it maximizes the opportunity for fish to pass to and from river and lake.
The shoreline assessment provides a good snap shot in time as we have captured today’s conditions by looking at the natural boundary, lidar data, orthophotography, GIS, bathymetry data, etc and also reviewing the past 70 years of data. By using this as a base, and understanding the impact of a raised weir and using projections of climate change we are able to give a property by property impact assessment. One thing I have learned is that each property is truly unique and that it is difficult to summarize overall conclusions for the whole 110km perimeter of the lake and for the 867 properties as a collective.
This work will inform stakeholders, decision makers and approvers in the years to come as the ‘new weir project’ continues to a conclusion.
These reports and presentations of these reports are available on this website. See main page for associated TABS.
It has been my pleasure to assist in helping this particular work reach the finish line. I’ve learned a lot in process. I’d like to thank the project sponsors for their patience and thank the Provincial and Federal governments for the grant funds to support this important work. Until next time. Leroy.
NOTE: The latest news is that there has been a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which guides the ongoing collaboration of Cowichan Tribes, Cowichan Valley Regional District and the Catalyst Paper Corporation (a Paper Excellence Company) to achieve long term water supply. The MOU allows them to work collaboratively on a shared purpose which is to continue to maintain the health of the Cowichan River watershed with a goal to eventually construct a new weir. A DRAFT water license application for conservation purposes has just been submitted to the Provincial Water Regulators. This will allow the province to formally begin to review the information and provide guidance to the partners regarding next steps and expectation. The regulators process for proceeding was outlined in the July 14th presentation.
We have rescheduled our Shoreline Assessment Project Public Update for Thursday, July 14th from 6-8pm. You should receive a Post Card and/or a letter this week.
We understand that we are well into summer and vacation periods and that this timeframe may not be ideal for you. However, we think it is important to continue to share our work and wrap up this phase of the project.
We did record a version of the proposed presentation on June 16th which is available here https://cowichanlakeweir.ca/june-16-project-update/ on this website. We will cover the same information on July 14th. Looking forward to your comments and questions.
Our June 16th meeting platform Link (WebEx) failed us last night. We have used the same set up for the past 2 years without issue, however, last night it simply did not work and we could not get it resolved in time to continue. Sorry.
We did record a version of the proposed presentation which will be made available today on this website.
We plan to have another public meeting but it will take time as we need to go through the notification process which includes mail outs to all the property owners. We cannot simply email everyone as we do not have that information.
As many people do not reside on their Cowichan Lake property, we have found the virtual meeting platform to be the most inclusive way to hold these meetings.
The Shoreline Assessment Project is wrapping up and is essentially complete. We will be sharing the results at a virtual public meeting on Thursday, June 16, 2022 at 6:00pm. See the TAB on the home page for details.
This project and the Weir Design project are just two pieces of the bigger puzzle and does not mean the construction can begin. There are still the Provincial processes for a water license application, reviews and approvals. And then the funding needs finalizing and contracts need to be put in place. We are still a few years away.
As you can imagine, storing an extra 70cm (27″) of water for part of the year is going to have some impact. There are 876 unique individual properties around the lake. The reason I use the word ‘unique’ is because there are no two properties that are identical. Even properties that are directly beside each other have their own characteristics like where the residence is located, whether or not property titles reach into the lake, where structures and docks are positioned, what type of vegetation exist, beach materials, etc. We have attempted to look at the lake as a whole and to also understand each individual property. The amount and type of impact varies greatly around the lake. When we share our results with you it will be with an overall perspective as we just do not have the time to get into every detail. Having said that, we will make available, through the Property View tool, an Impact Assessment ‘report card’ for each property. We hope this will give you an insight into your particular situation and give you enough data to give you an understanding of what it means to you. The plan view and cross-sectional view are also important tools to give it context and scale.
The extra 70 cm of water being stored won’t alter the range of water levels we have seen in the past, however it will change how long water will reside at a particular level. It’s this change in ‘time at various levels’ that will create changes along the shoreline.
Climate continues to change. We’ve experience longer, hotter dryer summers and warmer, wetter winters and those trends will continue and even become more severe. Even without a new weir our work concludes that we will see changes to how long water will stay at various levels and we will see lake levels much lower than in the past. The ‘System’ of climate and the earth’s response, and in particular our Lake’s response, is very dynamic and always changing and evolving. We have an opportunity to adapt to these changes in the Cowichan Valley by raising the weir. We’ve done our best to understand what those changes may be to the perimeter of Cowichan Lake. The final reports will be made available on this website later this month.
The work continues in two key areas. The Shoreline Assessment project has been delayed a couple of months primarily due to our consultant being pulled away to higher priority work in support of the severe flooding throughout the Abbotsford area in November and December. However we are now back on task and will have our work done by the end of May 2022 with another virtual public meeting in June. The Property View Tool is still currently available for all to use where you can zoom into your property and see the elevations of various measures. See the ‘Property View Tool’ TAB at the home page of this site.
The Cowichan Weir License and Ownership work is also underway to determine a number of issues such as ownership, licensing, liabilities and cost structures for capital, maintenance and operation. Until this is sorted out there cannot be a license application, approvals or any construction. It is much more complex than one might think due to the many possibilities. The good news is that the right people are at the virtual table having these tough, interesting and educational discussions.
Despite having some heavy rains in November and December the lake is relatively low for this time of year and the snow pack in the mountains seems to be just below average. We really haven’t had much precipitation in January and February. We’ll see how this spring unfolds and cross our fingers that we don’t have another wicked warm heat dome or another super dry year like 2019. Times are changing and we need to consider how to adapt. Until next time – take care.