Tsolum River Agricultural Watershed Planning

 

The Tsolum River watershed and its aquifers provide water that is critical to the health of the local agricultural community and the health of the environment. The Tsolum River and its aquifers also provide drinking water for homes, businesses, a school, and community centres.

The Tsolum watershed is heavily influenced by seasonal variations in precipitation. In the winter, plentiful rain brings high water levels and occasional flooding. In dry summer months, stream flows become very low at the same time that agricultural producers, fish, and residents need water the most. Groundwater is an important source for irrigation water and in-stream flows in the summer, however, its availability varies.

Salmon in the Tsolum River during the month of August.

In 2017, the CVRD initiated a agricultural watershed planning process for the Tsolum River to address current and future concerns about water availability for agriculture, instream and community needs. This work has been funded in part by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Government of British Columbia through programs delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C.

Information on water and agriculture was gathered and analyzed as part of Phase One of this process, which concluded in February 2019. Phase Two work was initiated in 2020; this work further investigated water supply and demand under future agricultural production scenarios and identified risks to aquatic life under current and future water use scenarios. Phase Two was completed in early 2021, and the CVRD is in the process of implementing key recommendations of the Phase Two report.

The CVRD would like to acknowledge the support, participation and input for this project from many groups, including K'ómoks First Nation, Tsolum River Restoration Society, Comox Valley Farmers Institute, Mid-Island Farmers Institute, Comox Valley Conservation Partnership, and others. 

For more information, see the Tsolum River Agricultural Watershed Plan Phase One report and the Tsolum River Agricultural Watershed Plan Phase Two report.