‘This is really remarkable water’: Cowichan River runs high again after years of drought

WatchRecent rains have become a silver lining to this Spring of 2021. Record breaking droughts have left the Cowichan River on life support for summers straight, but now locals are breathing a sigh of relief there. Skye Ryan reports.

Recent rains have become a silver lining to spring 2021.

While previous record-breaking droughts have left the Cowichan River on life support for summers straight, locals are breathing a sigh of relief.

“Water-wise we’ve been very, very lucky, plus we have the snowpack still,”  said Joe Saysell, who’s lived on the Cowichan River for 72 years. “So compared to past years this is really remarkable water.”

The Cowichan River is a critical habitat and spawning ground for Chinook salmon so the rain can make or break the run.

In the first two weeks of June, Duncan received even more rain at 18 millimetres than the 14.4 mm that fell in all of May.

The Lake Cowichan resident and steward of the river says that he’s hopeful the lifeblood of this community could be healthy this year.

However, while the Cowichan Valley has been receiving good rainfall, Victoria has just recorded its driest spring on record.

“Every year on Vancouver Island, especially on the southeast side, we do see extremes that reach critically low levels,” said Armel Castellan, an Environment Canada meteorologist.

In past Junes, Saysell was walking across rocks in the river where the water now runs high. The conditions have been dramatically changed by rain that keeps falling in the Cowichan Valley.

“Well just thinking back to 2019, it was really really bad,” said Saysell. “Whereas we’ve got 15 cubic metres of water right now.”

The rain has also delivered dream growing conditions to area farms and gardens.

“We had a little bit of a dry spell in May but ever since then, all the crops are in and we haven’t had to irrigate,” said John Thompson of Russell Farm Market. “So I’m getting a lot of production and a lot of success out of the plants.”

The rain has become a welcome sight for some residents, since what some are calling “June-uary,” others welcome it as a refreshing change from Junes of recent past.

READ MORE: April showers? Not on Vancouver Island where dry weather cracks top 10


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