How are we adapting

Climate adaptation is about recognizing the range of potential changes ahead and putting plans and actions in place to reduce the level of risk or take advantage of opportunities. Local government decision makers are well positioned to take action on climate adaptation because of several key factors:

  • Mandate - Local government's legislative mandate includes many services that will be directly impacted by climate change - from infrastructure and utilities to parks and recreation. Adapting to new climate conditions is crucial to continuing to deliver high quality services. 
  • Local Scale - As the level of government closest to the community, local governments are well placed to identify unique vulnerabilities to climate change and to prepare responses tailored to the regional and community needs.
  • Managing Risk - Proactive adaptation planning can bolster the region's existing risk management by anticipating and mitigating future risks, as well as identifying and making the most of potential benefits.
  • Fiscal responsibility - the cost of climate change for Canada is expected to be $21-43 billion by 2015, depending on global efforts to curb emissions and economic and population growth. Adaptation can significantly reduce these costs and is a fiscally prudent measure given the extent of services affected by climate change. 

Some of our work to help adapt to climate change-related impacts includes:

  • Flood planning, which includes flood infrastructure and upgrades (e.g., dikes) and removing excess river sediment built up due to winter storms;
  • Developing a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for our infrastructure to help cope with changing regional conditions;
  • Developing up-to-date information about critical water resources both in our lakes and rivers and in our aquifers, so that we can manage this limited resource more effectively;
  • Working in partnership with the Cowichan Watershed Board, the Cowichan River Stewardship Roundtable, Shawnigan Basin Authority, and others to foster community stewardship of our natural resources.
  • Gathering critical information such as snow levels and groundwater flows, helping us to manage water resources more carefully;
  • Completing natural hazard risk assessments for flood, sea level rise and slope failure to determine potential impacts to some of our communities; and
  • Working closely with a range of agricultural partners to develop and support the sharing of resources, tools and knowledge to ensure a robust agricultural sector in the future.

Quick Links

  1. Drought
  2. Flooding
  3. Fire

It's a new normal, Cowichan

Long-term, strategic water preparedness

Drought will be a part of the ‘new normal’ in the Cowichan region, and is putting our water supply under extreme stress. These conditions have serious implications for our economy and ecology, but the good news is that there are practical, effective solutions that our region as a whole, and each of us individually, can take to adapt to this new reality. The first step is to change our thinking around water. The new normal is water scarcity, not water abundance, and all actions must flow from this reality. We also need to prepare ourselves for tough conditions and decisions in order to protect our water supply.
Meades Creek in June 2015

The CVRD is leading the response at the regional level, working in partnership with our communities. Together we are developing a long-term, strategic water preparedness plan to make sure our water supply is protected. We are laying the groundwork for larger solutions such as increasing our capacity to store water during wet periods to make sure there is enough to get us through the dry periods, building flood management systems to minimize damage, and working with key sectors such as agriculture to ensure they have the tools and resources to support us in the future.
At the personal level, each of us can do our part by being DroughtSmart and FloodSmart – and taking advantage of the many SmartTools designed to make living the new normal easier. With a little bit of effort you can help keep our water supply and quality of life intact.  The provincial Drought Portal is a useful page for information on current drought conditions across the province.
There are small things you can do to help our region better manage water, including becoming more aware of your watershed. Together we can ‘live the new normal’ of our limited water supply and continue to enjoy all the benefits of living here.