“The Cowichan Region is advancing processes and developing products that are the foundation for a future Water Sustainability Plan,” says Keith Lawrence, Senior Environmental Analyst (Engineering & Environmental Services Department), Cowichan Valley Regional District
Note to Reader:
The summer dry season has extended on both ends and BC communities can no longer count on a predictable snowpack and reliable rain to maintain a healthy water balance in their watersheds. Annual volumes of water entering and exiting regions are not necessarily changing; instead, what is changing is how and when water arrives – it is feast AND famine! The Cowichan Region is a provincial leader in demonstrating how local government action can influence Water Balance outcomes. Cowichan experience will be featured at the Feast AND Famine Workshop on December 1, 2015.
Our Climate is Changing & Adaptation is Local
“According to Bob Sandford, keynote speaker for our Feast AND Famine Workshop (December 1st), the drought that extended this past winter, spring and summer from Vancouver Island to Manitoba and from Mexico to the Yukon is an indicator that Western North America may be crossing an invisible threshold into a different hydro-meteorological regime,” notes Mike Tanner, Workshop Chair.
“Adaptation is local in application. Hence, this workshop on responding to a changing climate is about solutions and tools that are being developed in BC through collaboration to support practitioners and decision makers to take action at a local level.”
“At the Feast AND Famine Workshop, Kate Miller and Keith Lawrence will tell the story of what the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) is doing. Located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, the Cowichan region is an incubator for Water Balance approaches that can be replicated elsewhere in the Georgia Basin and beyond.”
Communicating the ‘New Normal’ in the Cowichan Region
“Summer drought and winter flooding are the ‘new normal’ in the Cowichan region, and are putting water supply and the regional ecosystem under extreme stress. To foster long-term, strategic water preparedness the CVRD has launched a website that is intended to provide the community with easy, clear information and tools that make adapting to the ‘new normal’ easier,” explains Kate Miller, Manager of Environmental Services, CVRD Engineering & Environmental Services Department.
“The New Normal Cowichan initiative illustrates what putting ‘water balance thinking’ into action looks like from a communications perspective. The branding for the New Normal uses images and words that inform and educate, with a focus on practical actions that emphasize what is possible: Drought Smart, Flood Smart and Smart Tools.”
Changing How Decisions are Made in the Cowichan Region
“Recurring region-wide consequences of water-related challenges have also prompted regional action to develop governance structures and processes to make the connections between high-level decision making and actions on the ground. The Regional Surface and Ground Water Management and Governance Study identified co-governance with First Nations as a primary condition for success in managing regional water resources,” continues Keith Lawrence, Senior Environmental Analyst in the CVRD Engineering & Environmental Services Department .
“It is proposed to 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 governance, management, and stewardship of water resources in the Cowichan Region. Coordination between these organizations is key as we face the pressures of climate change and population growth on our resources.”
To Learn More:
Click on Regional Surface and Ground Water Management and Governance Study to download a copy of the Draft Report.