Although summer drought conditions are the new normal, a lack of rain and warm temperatures so far in 2019 is of “significant concern” in the Cowichan Valley. That’s from Cowichan Valley Regional District Environmental Services Manager Kate Miller in a release announcing the region is at a drought level Two, considered dry. According to the CVRD website, the significance of a a drought level two designation is the first indication of a water supply problem, and officials say the region is rapidly approaching drought level three. “We can see the low lake and river levels, but data from provincial monitoring wells showing three wells in the Cowichan region at record low levels. This tells us the drought is also affecting groundwater aquifers,” Miller said in a statement. The CVRD says the situation is especially critical in the Cowichan watershed because of a lack of rain this spring. Record low lake levels means salmon fry salvage that normally takes place mid-summer has already started. The region says Paper Excellence has received permission to reduce flows through the Lake Cowichan weir at 4.5 cubic metres per second, but it is still forecast that pumping water over the weir will be needed by early August. The wildfire danger rating is considered moderate-high throughout the Cowichan region and open burning is banned. Water restrictions are at level one throughout the Cowichan region, which means sprinkling for a maximum of two hours for even numbered houses on even dates, and odd numbered houses on odd dates.