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The original item was published from 6/1/2016 4:25:00 PM to 6/10/2016 12:00:01 AM.

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Posted on: May 26, 2016

[ARCHIVED] Early Spring Brings Drought Conditions to the Cowichan Valley

April showers usually bring May flowers, but this year’s hot, dry spring has brought drought conditions to the valley instead. The snowpack is melting rapidly, lake and river levels are at record low levels, and the forecast is for a hot, dry summer. Now is the time for residents throughout the Cowichan Valley to think seriously about water conservation.

Provincial drought levels are updated throughout the spring and summer based on measures such as snowpack, rainfall, and water levels. The Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) has used these same measures at the regional scale and determined that Level 3 (Very Dry) drought conditions exist throughout the region.

“Given the urgency of the situation, all agencies are working closely together to ensure critical water resources are maintained. We ask the public to consider this valuable and limited resource carefully and reduce use where possible,” says CVRD Chair Jon Lefebure. For property owners on wells, early planning and careful resource use may be critical to ensuring summer water flows.

The following measures of drought were used in determining the Level 3 drought level in CVRD:
• Snowpack – 7% of normal
• Rainfall - <40% of normal for April and May
• Streamflow – Chemainus and Cowichan Rivers at record low levels
• Lake level – Cowichan Lake has 46% storage remaining, the lowest level for late-May since the weir was built in 1957

Key Cowichan River flows controlled by Catalyst are immediately being reduced to 4.5 cubic meters per second, the lowest possible flows to accommodate fisheries survival and sewage dilution as long as possible. Loss of Cowichan Lake storage to maintain minimal base flow is currently projected to be September 4 unless there are substantial rains.

Current management responses include:
• Water restrictions – changes are currently being reviewed
• Fire ban – no open burning
• Fish – streams drying up very quickly and fry salvage is underway, possible angling restrictions may be imposed to reduce stress in the coming months.

For more information on drought conditions, water use restrictions, and tips and tricks for reducing your water use, visit

Drought information
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