The Cowichan Tribes and the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development have reached a historic agreement to develop a water sustainability plan for the Koksilah watershed ( Xwulqw’selu).
The plan will be the first of its kind in British Columbia
It will address significant concerns in the watershed related to water availability, low flows, critical fish habitat, Indigenous cultural resources, and other identified issues.
The Cowichan Tribes and FLNRORD have reached consensus to pursue a water sustainability plan after nearly two years of options and opportunities to better manage the Koksilah watershed collaboratively.
“The Cowichan Tribes are thrilled to see this important step towards taking charge of Xwulqw’selu Sta’lo’ (Koksilah Watershed),” said Chief Lydia Hwitsum.
“We are already seeing drought and flood damage to salmon and wildlife, homes, cultural resources, the economy and the wider community.”
Summer flows in the Koksilah River have been exceptionally low in recent years at times of greatest water demand, threatening the survival of fish populations and the aquatic ecosystem.
In August 2019 and 2021, Ministerial Orders under the Water Sustainability Act were issued in the watershed, limiting crop irrigation and other water uses in the watershed in order to protect fish populations.
“A water sustainability plan helps us plan for the future, while restoring and rebuilding the watershed to a healthier state,” Hwitsum said.
“As Quw’utsun Mustimuhw (Cowichan Tribes), we have always had a responsibility to care for the land and water. We are committed to working with government and everyone involved in the community.