Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Cowichan Region is Adapting to a Changing Climate
What the Water Balance problem in the Cowichan looks like….
Under the IREI umbrella, each of the five partner regional districts is spearheading a different part of the Watershed Health Legacy puzzle picture. The lens for the Cowichan Region is Climate Change Adaptation because a pattern of alternating droughts and floods is already a reality.
Restoring the absorbency of the urban landscape would stretch the seasonal population-support capacities of water storage reservoirs (by reducing demand for landscape irrigation water) and sustain environmental flows during droughts. It would also reduce stream erosion in wet weather.
Managing Risks in the Face of Climate Change
When the CVRD hosted the Inter-Regional Collaboration Session held in May 2014, the Cowichan Region team chose Adapt to a Changing Climate – Manage the Water Balance for the session theme.
The team shared their insights flowing from the processes and products they have under development to manage risks to water resource infrastructure, water supply and water quality in the face of climate change.
The Cowichan Region is well advanced in advancing processes and developing products that can eventually be packaged as elements of an over-arching Water Sustainability Plan.
Changing How We Make Decisions
Recurring region-wide consequences of water-related challenges prompted regional action to develop governance structures and processes to make the connections between high-level decision making and actions on the ground.
Regional Water Authority
In February 2015, the Regional Surface and Ground Water Management and Governance Study was presented in draft to the CVRD Board. The study made four primary recommendations. Establishing a Regional Water Authority is #1. Co-governance with First Nations is identified as a primary condition for success in managing water resources. The Authority’s mandate, as currently proposed, would be to provide regional coordination for stewardship of surface and ground water resources, and regulation of environmental standards in high-risk watersheds.
The feedback from the Board was to hear from First Nations on their recommendations for Regional Governance before taking further steps.
Create a Watershed Health Legacy
“It is envisioned that we would apply whole watershed thinking and follow a risk-based approach to decision-making and management across the region. Currently, over 60 distinct organizations – including First Nations, improvement districts, government agencies, NGOs, and industry – play a role in the governance, management, and stewardship of water resources in the Cowichan. Coordination between these organizations is key as we face the pressures of climate change and population growth on our water resources,” says Keith Lawrence, Senior Environmental Analyst, CVRD Engineering and Environmental Services Department.
To Learn More:
The Cowichan Valley chapter in Beyond the Guidebook 2015 is 14 pages and is organized in six sections. To download a PDF copy and read the complete story, click on Convening for Action in Cowichan Region.
To download a copy of the entire 158-page Beyond the Guidebook 2015, click on this link: https://waterbucket.ca/viw/files/2015/11/Beyond-Guidebook-2015_final_Nov.pdf