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Workers install pumps in Cowichan Lake in July, 2019 so that water may be pumped into the Cowichan River later in the summer, due to drought conditions.

What do you want to know about this summer’s drought?

Send curious water questions that we might be able to help answer.

In recent weeks, the drought on Vancouver Island has been all over the news, in outlets including The Globe and Mail, The Tyee, CBC and the Cowichan Valley Citizen. The issue is getting lots of attention, and for good reason. Right now, pumps are being installed (hat tip Malcolm Chalmers for the great photo!) in Cowichan Lake. They’re to keep water flowing into the river after the lake level drops too low, which could happen as soon as August 8 according to an email update from Paper Excellence Canada, which operates the Catalyst Crofton Mill.

The more I read about the water situation, though, the more questions I have. How are the conversations around replacing the weir with a higher one really going, behind closed doors? Do water restrictions work? And what’s going on with that new Cowichan Valley Regional District money for watershed and drinking water protection, that residents voted for last fall?

I know you have questions, too. Last week, one reader shared a few with me: 

“Where is the money going to come from to raise the weir on Lake Cowichan? And why are we taking so long? And what are we doing about all the other nearby rivers that don’t have big lakes at their heads, and will go dry in summer, and will no longer support salmon?”

What question matters most to you? What would you add to the list? Send me an email to jaqueline@thediscourse.ca with your curious water questions.

News of the week

  • The B.C. government announced that it is protecting 54 old growth trees in the province, and one hectare of land around them, CTV News reports. One of the trees, a Garry oak, is in the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
  • A swim down the Cowichan River to raise awareness of low water flows was hindered by low water flows, the Cowichan Valley Citizen reports. Geoff de Ruiter says that after walking long stretches of dry gravel beds he developed a blister and decided to stop 15 kilometres short of his goal.
  • Crofton author Liz Maxwell Forbes has published a second book, River Tales: Stories from My Cowichan Years, a collection of stories from the 20 years she lived at a rural property on the Cowichan River at Riverbottom Road, the Ladysmith Chronicle reports

Let’s gather

  • July 18: 🍔 The Cowichan Stewardship Roundtable’s annual field day and potluck barbeque is today (right now!) from 9:30 a.m to 2 p.m. at the Stoltz Pool picnic site. Bring a chair, dishes and cutlery, a water bottle and food to share.
  • July 20: 🤓 Get your game face on for trivia night at Riot Brewing in Chemainus. 
  • July 21: 🏆 Join the Tube Shack in Lake Cowichan for its attempt to set a Guinness world record for the longest unbroken chain of people floating on tubes.
  • July 23: 🚰 The Town of Lake Cowichan is hosting a public meeting with Paper Excellence Canada (owner of Catalyst Paper) about plans to pump water out of Cowichan Lake because of the drought this summer, and changes to the town’s water intake that need to be made for that reason.
  • July 23: 🎥 One Cowichan is screening Beyond Climate, a film about climate change in B.C., with a discussion to follow. 

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