Thank you to the 80 attendees who joined us for a live presentation on November 17, 2021. A recording of the presentation is available below.
To help you follow the conversation, more information is available on the Shoreline Assessment page.
If you weren’t able to join us in July for the project update, the presentation is available to view here.
The Property View Tool will be available on November 18, 2021. Visit the Property View Tool page for more information.
Please join us for a live presentation on November 17, 2021:
- Learn how to access and use the Property View Tool to see the information related to your property.
- Learn about the potential impacts that we are currently assessing and let us know your thoughts.
Presentation: 7 to 7:30 PM
Q&A: 7:30 to 8 PM
Online public link:
Call-in number: 1-844-992-4726
Call-in access code: 2480 278 2672
We will answer questions during the live presentation on November 17, 2021.
6 thoughts on “November 17 Project Update”
I thought the talk last night was very interesting. I was happy to hear advocacy for the fish but this came very late in the presentation when it should have been up front. In my view, the status quo option of no change to the weir height isn’t really an option given the legal obligations to protect fish habitat. I wondered how many of the lake side property boundaries actually included the shore where the elevated height would occur, leaving me to wonder if the mitigation/compensation concerns are overstated. In any event, the directly affected properties (those with boundaries within the elevated zone) should be measurable from your geo data. I also think the whole issue of variability (highs and lows around the mean) is much more important and should be given more emphasis. The key question is how expected future changes in high water variability might be affected during the period of raised lake level caused by elevated weir. My last comment is really more of a question. It was pointed out that the elevated weir level was to hold back enough water to preserve fish habitat by ensuring sufficient flow over the river bed during low water periods. I wondered if this was the reason for the initial weir in ’57 and also what was the case prior to ’57 when there was no weir and presumably fish habitat vulnerability during low flow periods. I suspect water usage in the river has increased significantly since ’57 which is causing the need for more water storage. If this is the case it should be stated.
Good luck with your project. You seem to have some very good minds on this.
Thanks for your comments, insights and question. Before the weir was constructed in 1957 there were many fish vulnerabilities such as low flow and river disturbances. They used to run logs down the river to Cowichan Bay and they would often jamb up due to the topography and many falls throughout the length of the river. “The first large‐scale disturbance of the Cowichan River was a period of log driving from 1890 to 1908. To facilitate log driving, explosives were used to remove rocks, hang‐ups or other impediments to downstream log movement. This resulted in major changes in channel morphology of the Cowichan River; 29 waterfalls were eliminated, leaving only one major falls (Skutz), and the number of rapids were reduced from 130 to approximately five. Pike, R.G., E.L. Young, J.D. Goetz and D.L. Spittlehouse. 2017. Cowichan River: A Summary of Historical Disturbances, Water Use Pressures and Streamflow Trends. Water Science Series. WSS2017‐05. Prov. B.C., Victoria B.C.”
The weir was built to support an ‘industrial’ license to support the Crofton Pulp and Paper operation but it had the added benefit of providing a more predictable, uniform and fish friendly flow during the summer months. Since that time climate changes have impacted precipitation and inflows to Cowichan Lake to the point where flows cannot be sustained through the longer, hotter and dryer summers. The additional height of 70cm will allow minimum flows to continue for most of the future summers. The new license will be a ‘conservation’ license with the intent of supporting habitat.
The need for more storage has more to do with climate change than it does due to increased usage. In fact, the pulp and paper mill uses much less water than their license allows due to water saving initiatives over the years.
I am wondering if there is any information on the effects of raising water level on vegetation (in particular trees) in the riparian zone? I understand that they will become more draught resistant, but should we expect trees that are at the lowest limits to become more saturated, exposed to waves and thus have die back? Who should we contact about trees in the riparian zone on our property?
There is no information at this time. The water levels will still be in the same range as historical water levels once the weir is raised, however, the water level will be higher in the spring and summer for a longer period of time. The water level is not static. The opposite is that if we do not raise the weir the water will be lower in the summer and fall during the long hot dry spells, which would also impact vegetation and habitat.
Typically the vegetation ‘line’ is around the natural boundary which is defined as “the visible high water mark of any lake where the presence and action of the water are so common and usual, and so long continued in all ordinary years, as to mark on the soil of the bed of the body of water a character distinct from that of its banks, in vegetation, as well as in the nature to the soil itself.” The new weir should not impact the high water mark.
For information regarding your trees and the riparian zone, contact a Qualified Environmental Professional or an arborist.
How do I donate towards the costs associated with the cold water intake from 20 meters of depth? This feature is essential to the wellbeing of fish during the summer months. Is there any estimate of cost and potential timeline for building this feature?
Thanks for your inquiry. This potential project has not been properly developed at this point. The priority is building a new weir with new opportunities for fish passage. The new weir will help ensure we have the water flow necessary in the summer which will help keep the colder water refugia, that exists today, supported.
The cold water system was looked at at a very high level and would require new funds and a clear business case to be further developed. The preliminary cost of a 1.5 to 2 kilometer underwater siphon system is estimated to be $20M to $30M. Until more study work is done to define the rationale for proceeding it will remain on hold. The good news is that the new weir has been designed to incorporate a potential future cold water siphon, if necessary.