With the weir design complete, there are many next steps including understanding the impact of raising the weir to the perimeter shoreline of the lake, agreeing on a Water License holder for the new Conservation License, and then going through the formal application and approval processes with the new water license holder. If approved, then construction funding would be finalized and contracts would be awarded. All of this will take a few years to get through before anything were to actually happen in the field.
The Shoreline Assessment project has been collecting data to help understand what types of impacts might be and where they would occur. The scope of this part of the project is primarily meant to understand potential impacts at the property level. The purpose of raising the weir is to help with aquatic habitat (particularly salmon) and vegetation which is why it will be considered a conservation license. The definition from the Water Sustainability Act – “conservation purpose” means the diversion, retention or use of water for the purpose of conserving fish or wildlife and includes the construction of works for that purpose”. The current understanding is that the additional water storage will also benefit the unique Cowichan Lamprey which has been listed as endangered under SARA (Species At Risk Act).
One of the outcomes of our work is to create a publicly available ‘Property View Tool’ where an owner could zoom to their property and see the various lines or markers on their area – much like Google Maps but with lines that represent our work. We will have the low water mark, property title boundaries, existing weir elevation, new weir elevation, average high water mark, 1 in 200 year flood line, the present natural boundary and a modelled future natural boundary. We plan to share that tool with you on Wednesday NOVEMBER 17, 2021 at 7:00pm via a virtual meeting. More details on how to join will be coming in the mail and in the homepage TAB of this website.
The whole purpose of raising the weir is to store more water in early spring so it can be released throughout the dry summer and fall months. Therefore, more water will exist along the shoreline than it would be without the weir raise. Of course the water level will continually decline throughout the summer as the water is released. One additional benefit of storing more water is that we will see fewer extreme low water events and the probability of having to pump out of the lake to support the river will also be reduced. Low water scenarios has its own set of concerns such as riparian vegetation drying up, reduced fish habitat, tributaries sitting relatively higher impacting aquatic access, grounded docks, and navigational issues.
Water affects the shoreline in different ways and is highly dependent on wind/wave energy, the type of material the shoreline is made of, the slope of the beach and how long the water stays at different elevations. We are measuring and modelling this information to help determine impact upon raising the weir. This information is still being collected and calibrated and the work won’t be completed until February 2022. We plan to share a final update of our assessment work in March of 2022. Stay tuned.