Pumps shut off at Cowichan Lake as water levels rise. (File photo)

Pumps at Cowichan Lake shut down

Recent rain raised water levels enough to halt need for emergency feed to Cowichan River

The pumps in Cowichan Lake shut down as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Brian Houle, environmental manager for Catalyst Crofton which operates the weir at Cowichan Lake, said water levels in the lake have continued to rise due to the rain over the past two days.

RELATED STORY: WATER PUMPING HAS STARTED AT COWICHAN LAKE

He said that with the wet weather, the water flow in the Cowichan River has risen to 5.2 cubic metres a second, a rise of about two CMS.

That means the river is currently seeing approximately 40 per cent more flow than it had all summer.

“The forecast continues to show wet weather in Lake Cowichan for the coming seven days, and that equates to lower risk of needing to return to pumps this year,” Houle said.

But Houle pointed out that the water issues this year may not be over yet.

“The lake is still currently at zero storage, which means it is almost empty,” he said.

“The chances are low that the dry conditions will return, but the chances were also very high that we would have gotten a lot of rain in February, March and April and that didn’t happen The flow in Cowichan River leaving the lake (over the weir) will remain at 4.5 CMS until higher lake levels are achieved.”

RELATED STORY: WATER DOWN 2 INCHES IN LAKE AS PUMPS FEED COWICHAN RIVER

Catalyst had to resort to pumping water into Cowichan River over its weir at Cowichan Lake on Aug. 29 to maintain water flows in the river.

It’s the first time the company, which depends on water from the Cowichan River to run its pulp and paper mill operations in Crofton, has had to take such action since the weir was first constructed in the 1950s.

The region has been experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades and water basins in the region, including Cowichan Lake, were only getting about two-thirds of the water they used to get in spring and summer.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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