Cowichan Tribes and the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development have reached an historic agreement to develop a water sustainability plan for the Koksilah (Xwulqw’selu) watershed.
The plan will be the first of its kind in B.C.
It will address significant concerns in the watershed related to water availability, low flows, critical fish habitat, Indigenous cultural resources, and other identified issues.
Cowichan Tribes and FLNRORD reached consensus to pursue a water sustainability plan after nearly two years of scoping options and opportunities to better manage the Koksilah watershed collaboratively.
“Cowichan Tribes is pleased to see this important step towards taking care of Xwulqw’selu Sta’lo’ (Koksilah watershed),” said Chief Lydia Hwitsum.
“We are already seeing damage from drought and flooding to salmon and wildlife, homes, cultural resources, the economy, and the whole community.”
Summer flows in the Koksilah River have been exceptionally low in recent years at times when demand for water is the greatest, which threatens 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, curtailing crop irrigation and other water uses in the watershed to protect fish populations.
“A water sustainability plan helps us plan for the future, while restoring and rebuilding the watershed to a healthier condition,” said Hwitsum.
“As Quw’utsun Mustimuhw (Cowichan Tribes), we have always had that responsibility to care for the land and water. We are committed to working with government and all the affected people in the community.”