World Water Day 2019

March 22

Its Hip to Fix a Drip report cover

Its Hip to Fix a Drip!

Summary Report of Five-Year Cowichan Water Conservation Challenge Released Today

March 22 2019

(Duncan)  In July 2014, in response to extreme summer droughts, a growing population, and concerns about water shortages and sustainability, the Cowichan Watershed Board issued a challenge to all local water suppliers to “meet or beat” Ladysmith’s domestic water use level at that time -- 246 litres per person per day. The Ladysmith target represented a more than 20% improvement in one decade, and well below the Canadian average at that time. It provided clear evidence that local residents could do better without impacting our quality of life. The seven largest water suppliers at the time took up the Challenge.

Due to difficulties comparing one water system to another, adjustments were made to the goal in year two and each water system was asked instead to aim for a 20% reduction in per capita residential water use from its 2013 levels rather than a specific volume of water.  While one water provider, Cowichan Bay Waterworks District, did reach that goal, and other districts surpassed the 20% reduction goal in some years, overall we have a long way to go. 

While the trend is improving, at approximately 8.6% less residential water use per person per day on average than in 2013, Cowichan Valley residents still use more water in our homes than the Canadian average of 251 Litres per person per day (LPD)[1], and Canadians are among the highest water consumers in the world.

However, the Challenge revealed a great interest and willingness among residents to “fix a drip” and conserve water. Approximately 2000 people directly engaged in a water conservation activity with the Watershed Board during this time, such as testing a toilet or garden hose for leaks or pledging to let their lawns go dormant in summer, saving an estimated 10 million litres of water.

Read or download the report here.



Residential Water Use in Litres per person per day (LPD)

Average % Change*

Water Supplier








North Cowichan








Mill Bay








Cow Bay
































*Average of year-to-year changes from the 2013 (pre-Challenge) baseline.

Note that data was not received from City of Duncan or Town of Lake Cowichan but both participated in other ways. Cowichan Tribes was an education participant in the Challenge but is not a water supplier.



Water Woman and Leaky Loos

  • 500 people took a pledge to save water in various ways in 2014-2015
  • 150 residents were provided with toilet leak detection kits, in exchange for a pledge that they would check their homes for leaky toilets.

Capture the Rain

  • 495 high school students learned about the importance of storing more winter water for summer use, and how to calculate the rainwater harvesting potential of their own home or school.
  • 5 local home or business owners were profiled for their innovative rainwater capture methods
  • 2 Rainwater Harvesting and 3 Micro-drip workshops were offered

Know your Flow

  • 314 elementary students were led through a one-hour session with “Watershed Ed” in 2018 to identify their home water source. After learning about their water sources, the elementary students received a certificate and encouragement to take it home to teach their families about their home water source.


Million Litre Challenge March 2018

  • An estimated 3.8 million litres of water was saved during Water Week in March 2018. The Million Litre Challenge engaged 132 people in setting up their summer watering hoses properly to avoid leaks all summer long. An estimated 28,800 litres of water is saved by changing the washer of a leaky hose, and/or tightening hose connections with a wrench.


Cowichan Hosers 2017-2018

  • 6 million litres of water was prevented from being wasted by the 264 people engaged by the “Cowichan Hosers” between 2017-2018. A hose washer “necklace” and follow-up phone calls were used to confirm whether the hoses had been tightened up.


[1] Environment Canada 2011 statistic.


World Water Day 2017

March 20

Cowichan Watershed Board Media Release

March 22, 2017                                              


“World Water Day, on 22 March every year, is about taking action to tackle the water crisis. Today, there are over 663 million people living without a safe water supply close to home...”  (UN Water,

(Duncan, BC) Today, as communities across the globe recognize UN World Water Day, and the Cowichan Valley watches the last remnants of snow trickle into rivers and out to sea, the Cowichan Watershed Board would like to applaud our most water wise residents for leading the way to a sustainable future. 

The Cowichan Water Conservation Challenge is a four-year initiative to track and reduce residential water use. Launched in July 2014 as a collaboration of local governments responding to an extreme drought, the challenge engages the region’s residents and water suppliers in a collective race to reduce daily home water use. The goal is to reduce daily home water use by at least 20% on average.

"Respecting our watershed means not depleting its resources,” says Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour. “When river flows and aquifers are dropping we need to reconsider our priorities." 

As of December 2016, Cowichan Bay Waterworks District, serving over 2,000 customers, is in front of the pack at 31% residential water use reduction since our baseline 2013 year. Congratulations Cowichan Bay!

Cowichan Bay residents also used the least amount of water on a per capita basis in 2016, at 211 litres per person per day. This might be in part because higher housing density means fewer lawns to water, so kudos to compact living, and thank you Cowichan Bay residents.

“We believe the success comes from a variety of sources including strict sprinkling regulations, water toll rates designed to charge higher rates for high volume users, and public education surrounding water conservation and leak detection,” explains Cowichan Bay Waterworks District Administrator, Donna Monteith. “Our residents understand the need to protect our most valued resource and have embraced the challenge to reduce water consumption.”

"We must continue to develop a culture of conservation when it comes to water, to do our best to protect this precious resource moving forward,” says Cowichan Valley Regional District Chair Jon Lefebure.

Click below for the full 2016 Water Challenge results.


Officials sound alarm over low Cowichan River Levels

May 20

James Goldie, Cowichan Valley Citizen, May 20, 2016

The Cowichan River is in danger of drying up this year, and Catalyst Paper Corporation, which controls the flow of water through the Cowichan Lake weir, has begun reducing the outflow of water in order to keep that from happening.

It may seem counter intuitive — reducing the flow of water out of the lake at a time when creeks and tributaries are already drying up — but if the outgoing water isn’t slowed down now, what’s held back by the weir in storage will be tapped out by the beginning of July.

According to Cheri Ayers, co-chair of the Cowichan Watershed Board’s Flows and Fish working group, the situation is dire.



Chemainus reduces water use 25%

March 22

Chemainus reduces water use 25 per cent

Cowichan Valley Citizen

posted Mar 25, 2016 at 10:00 AM


The community of Chemainus reduced its water consumption by 25 per cent in 2015, declining use by approximately 650 litres per person each day.

In fact, overall residential water consumption went down last year in almost all the local water systems in the Cowichan Valley, which is likely due to the extreme drought that struck the region last summer and the water restrictions that went with it.

David Slade, chairman of the Cowichan Watershed Board’s water conservation working group, said he hopes the region is experiencing an improving “culture of conservation” in regards to water use as residents become more aware of its value.

He said the growing awareness of water conservation in the valley is timely as it coincides with the United Nation’s World Water Day, which was celebrated on March 22.

“People here really rose to the challenge of extreme drought and low water flows last summer, proving to ourselves that we can live with far less water,” Slade said. “While our water issues pale in comparison to those in California, we don’t know what the future will bring and we don’t know what our water sources will support. Conservation is an essential step on the path to sustainability.”

As part of the water conservation initiatives by the United Nations, almost all the water systems in the region agreed to participate in the Cowichan Water Challenge in 2015.

The challenge is engaging the water systems in a collective race to reduce water consumption by 20 per cent in four years, from 2014 to 2018.

Other than Chemainus, the other water systems in the area that achieved significant conservation savings in 2015 were the Cowichan Valley Regional District, Mill Bay and North Cowichan’s Crofton and South End systems, with each reducing water use by as much as 17 per cent.

The Water Challenge was inspired, in part, by the great success in Ladysmith with water conservation in recent years.

Between 2002 and 2013, Ladysmith reduced its total water use by 25 per cent, while the population grew by 20 per cent.


Cowichan Marks Progress for World Water Day 2016

March 22

Media Release, Cowichan Watershed Board, March 21, 2016

(Duncan) Cowichan Watershed Board is marking the UN’s World Water Day on March 22 by congratulating local residents and water suppliers for significant water-saving progress in the Cowichan Water Challenge in 2015. The Challenge engages most of the region’s major water suppliers in a collective race to reduce home water use by 20% over four years (2014-2018).

Overall residential water consumption went down last year in nearly every participating water system despite last summer’s severe drought, which might normally lead to increased demand. This is largely due to Watering Restriction Bylaws going to Stage 3 early last July. Hopefully we are also seeing an improving culture of conservation (and less water waste) year-round as we all become more aware of the value of our water.   Click here to continue reading...


Talking Water Conservation with Raincoast Aquaponics

August 20

Adrian_Raincoast_Aquaponics-sm.jpgCowichan Valley Citizen. By "Flo", Guest Columnist

Name: Adrian Southern

Occupation: Owner/Founder, Raincoast Aquaponics

Why Flo likes him/her: Water Conservation Hero


Flo: Hi Adrian. Let’s start with how long you have lived in Cowichan Region.

Adrian: I grew up in Cowichan Bay, and recently moved back here from Nanaimo.

Flo: You stand out as a friend of the watershed because of the efforts you make to save water. Thank you for that! What inspired you to start an aquaponic farm?

Adrian: My hatred of weeding.

Flo: Tell us more about what you do and how it helps conserve Cowichan water.




Water: if we care about the future there's really no choice

February 23

David Slade / Special To The Citizen
January 2, 2015

Why would a guy who makes his living from bringing water to people suddenly start giving public lectures about using less of it; especially when this crusty old well driller is deathly afraid of public speaking?

If early onset dementia is your first guess, then you would be on the same page as my business partners. The truth however is a little more complicated. In recent years I have become aware that from a sustainability perspective we are headed up the proverbial creek. And it's not just that we don't have a paddle, we have a canoe full of holes, and the fact that the creek is likely running dry should be of no consolation at all.


One Cowichan Survey Identifies Water as Top Issue

February 23

water tap

Andrea Rondeau / Cowichan Valley Citizen
October 10, 2014 09:46 AM - See more at:
Andrea Rondeau / Cowichan Valley Citizen
October 10, 2014 09:46 AM - See more at:

Andrea Rondeau / Cowichan Valley Citizen
October 10, 2014 09:46 AM

Water, conservation and accountability are key issues for Cowichan Valley residents heading into November's municipal elections a survey by citizen's group One Cowichan has found.

- See more at:


Water Woman Takes a Raincheque

November 03

raindrops-crop.jpgNEWS RELEASE

Date:  November 3, 2014

Water Woman Takes a Rain-Cheque

(Duncan) Cowichan’s favourite super-hero swept through the valley one final time last week. After visiting children at Bench Elementary and strolling her native Cowichan Bay shoreline, she dropped by the Lake Cowichan weir to take a hopeful look at what may soon eliminate the worst threats of drought for the Cowichan River....

[See photos at]


River Cleanup in Honour of Gerald Thom

August 16


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