Water Stewardship Information Sources

Citation Maven Consulting. 2013. Cowichan Watershed Assessment, Phase 1 - Lower Watershed, 2012 data summary. BC Ministry of Environment.
Organization Ministry of Environment
URL http://cvrdnewnormalcowichan.ca/wp-content/uploads/CowichanWatershed_Phase1_Final_20131216.pdf
Abstract/Description or Keywords Cumulative effects due to urbanization, population growth and land use have become the dominant
drivers affecting water and air quality on much of Vancouver Island, particularly the east coast corridor.
The traditional focus on large “point sources” is no longer effective as a stand-alone tool in the protection
of water and air quality. A more effective integrated approach links land use to environmental quality
through area based planning, supported by science based monitoring, regulatory compliance and shared
The Ministry of Environment’s West Coast Region has developed an integrated compliance plan which
incorporates receiving environment monitoring and assessment into compliance and inspection priorities,
planning, shared stewardship and partnerships. The Cowichan River has been highlighted as a priority
area for implementation of the integrated plan and subsequent allocation of resources. The Cowichan and
Koksilah Rivers support one of Vancouver Island’s most valuable sport, commercial and First Nations
fisheries. The Cowichan River is one of only three rivers in BC designated as a Canadian Heritage River,
based on its outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values. This watershed is used extensively for
contact recreation such as swimming and kayaking, and is also a source of water for drinking, irrigation
and industrial purposes (McKean, 1989).
The Town of Lake Cowichan has an authorized sewage treatment plant (STP) effluent discharge into the
Cowichan River located in the upper watershed, approximately 3.5 km downstream of the weir at
Cowichan Lake, and the City of Duncan/District of North Cowichan, referred to as the Joint Utilities
Board (JUB), also has an authorized treated STP discharge into the river approximately 1.5 km
downstream of the highway bridge in the lower watershed. Water quality objectives were developed in
1989 (McKean) for the Cowichan-Koksilah Rivers in an attempt to protect the water quality from
activities that were occurring within the watershed, such as forestry, agriculture, industrial operations and
residential development.
Ongoing water quality concerns from both point and non point sources in portions of Cowichan Bay and
the Cowichan and Koksilah Rivers still remain an issue. Fish kills have been documented in “Fish Gut
Alley” over the last 2 years from storm water discharges. Urbanization and population growth trends are
predicted to continue. The Cowichan Watershed Board has recognized the need for change through the
establishment of seven “targets” for the watershed, including total suspended solids (TSS), water quality,
and edible shellfish in Cowichan Bay. The Ministry of Environment (MOE) in consultation with partners
and stakeholders has also established WQO’s for Cowichan Lake, and innovative phosphorus loadings
limits for the Duncan/North Cowichan JUB discharge. Targets and WQOs are highly effective tools to
support change and a move towards better management through area-based planning (ABP), which links
regulatory compliance, and land use to water quality in a proactive manner to protect the environment.
Liquid waste management planning (LWMP) is the regulatory framework which can guide this process.
Information Type report
Regional Watershed Vancouver Island South
Sub-watershed if known Cowichan
Aquifer #
Project status complete
Contact Name
Contact Email