What it's all about: giving these little guys a chance to live. (Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society photo)

Editorial: We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by conserving water

It's time to start considering before you haul out the power washer for any reason

What are you going to do to conserve water, starting now?

That’s the question that should be on everyone’s mind, with the province announcing Friday that Vancouver Island is already experiencing Level 3 drought conditions. To put that into perspective, Level 4 is the highest the scale goes.

And, as meteorologists predicted, we have not been having a Junuary (January weather in June). We can look forward to much of the same in the forecast this summer, with B.C. looking at a hot, dry season.

Right here at home the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society has already been out scouring the drying tributaries to Cowichan Lake in a bid to rescue as many salmon fry as possible. They’ve commented on how low the water is already, and how some areas that normally have fry are barren. It’s becoming an annual thing for them, the need to rescue fry from dry creekbeds, streams and rivers. We don’t want to know what will happen to our fish populations should they cease their rescue efforts.

The executive director of the Cowichan Watershed Board, Tom Rutherford, warns that the water situation in Cowichan Lake is “dire”. Water levels are such that they’re anticipating having no water storage left as soon as early July. The Crofton mill, which owns and operates the weir at the lake that controls the flow of water into the Cowichan River, can use pumps to get water into the river for awhile, but there are limits.

If you haven’t started your own water conservation efforts yet this year, it’s time to do it — before we reach a critical point. Municipalities are likely to step in with further restrictions. If you hadn’t heard, many residents are already under Stage 1 watering restrictions, which kick in annually for the Municipality of North Cowichan, the Cowichan Valley Regional District, City of Duncan, Town of Lake Cowichan, Mill Bay Water District and Cowichan Bay Water District on May 1. This is the lowest level. We do not want to get to Stage 3, but with the drought announcement, it’s likely restrictions will be moving to at least Stage 2 in the near future.

So it’s time to start considering before you haul out the power washer for any reason, leave the hose running while you wash the car (something you should train yourself out of all year long), or wash the sidewalk. You may wish you could get all that water back later. Other easy changes include not leaving the tap running while washing dishes or brushing your teeth, and collecting grey water or rainwater for your garden.

We have nothing to lose and everything to gain with conservation.

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