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First Cowichan River flow boost starts Sept. 22, Catalyst says
Spawning Chinook salmon are being helped by bigger Cowichan River flows starting Sept. 22, Catalyst's brass says.
The flow boost from 13 to 18 cubic metres per second involves manually adjusting gates at the Lake Cowichan weir.
The move will be conducted to help the upstream migration of spawning Chinook, says a release from Catalyst, owners of Crofton pulp mill that 's held two provincial river-water licences since the 1950s.
The higher flows follow a joint agreement between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Cowichan Tribes, Cowichan River Hatchery, and Catalyst Paper's Crofton Division. "Water storage levels in Lake Cowichan are on target, providing adequate water to release, a release from Crofton's environmental manager, Brian Houle, says.
"Starting Sunday, Sept. 22 at noon — and ramping up over the rest of the day, the water flow on the river at Lake Cowichan will be increased from the current flow of 13 cubic metres per second (cms) to a pulse flow of 18 cms.
"This increased river flow rate will be sustained for about two hours, and is important as it signals salmon to begin their annual spawning cycle."
Unlike previous pulse flows, this year it will slowly drop flows by Tuesday.
"The plan is to repeat this same pulse flow routine beginning Sept. 29," Houle notes.
Catalyst urges citizens, especially boaters and swimmers, to use extra caution on the river.
"Increased flows, combined with natural storm events, can create stronger currents and undertows."