The Comox Lake Watershed
The Comox Lake watershed is located in the traditional territory of the K'ómoks First Nation and provides drinking water for the communities of the Comox Valley. This watershed is an interconnected system of mountains, forests, rivers, creeks and streams and an ecological corridor that links Vancouver Island mountains with the Salish Sea.
The watershed is 461 square kilometres and reaches to the top of the Comox Glacier and the mountains surrounding Comox Lake. Within the Comox Lake watershed there are multiple sub-basins named for the creeks and rivers that flow through them. These include the Upper Puntledge, Cruikshank, Boston Creek and Perseverance Creek sub-basins. Water that hits the ground as snow or rain anywhere in the Comox Lake watershed eventually flows into Comox Lake.
The Comox Lake watershed has been managed for multiple values including mining, logging and recreation activities for over 140 years. While coal mining operations ended in the 1930’s, a large portion of the watershed is still currently privately owned and managed for timber supply. Comox Lake itself is a reservoir controlled by BC Hydro for power generation. Swimming, boating and camping also takes place but public access is limited to specific sites at the east end of the lake. The watershed also provides important habitat for fish and wildlife including species at risk like the Roosevelt elk, little brown bat and northern red-legged frog. Comox Lake flows into the Puntledge River providing stream flows that support many species of salmon.
Other landowners within the watershed include the Village of Cumberland (Perseverance Creek sub-basin, Cumberland Lake Park), Comox Lake Land Corporation (cabin owners at east end of lake), the Comox Valley Regional District (Coal Beach), the Courtenay and District Fish and Game Society and BC Parks (Strathcona Park and Comox Lake Bluffs Ecological Reserve).
The Comox Lake watershed is the source of drinking water for over 49,000 residents of the Comox Valley through the Comox Valley Water System and the Cumberland Water System. Although the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) is constructing a new water treatment plant, the cost of treating our drinking water will be directly related to the quality of water that is drawn from Comox Lake.
In 2016 the CVRD published the Comox Lake Watershed Protection Plan (WPP). Its objective is to guide the management of the Comox Lake watershed for the long-term protection of drinking water at the highest possible quality.
Connected by Water
Connected by Water is a CVRD program that was developed in response to the community education and engagement recommendations in the Comox Lake Watershed Protection Plan. The goal of this program is to build capacity, community and connection to support watershed protection and water conservation efforts. To achieve this the program includes:
- Outreach to watershed stakeholders and knowledge holders
- Facebook, Instagram and web-based content
- Elementary and secondary education curriculum and learning kits
- Special events and public presentations
- Signage and public education projects
- Professional development events
- Water conservation education, incentives and rebate programs