January 31, 2005

Government, industry, First Nations partners support development of Cowichan R basin plan

DUNCAN, BC-A $50,000 grant from the British Columbia government will help the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) develop a plan for sustainable use of water resources along the Cowichan River. The grant will be matched by funding from four other partners representing government, First Nations and industry; together they will contribute the $276,550 required to complete the water management plan. The Cowichan River basin partners include the CVRD, the Cowichan Tribes, Norske Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The river, which has been designated as a Canadian heritage site, affords enhanced property values in addition to supporting a variety of economic, environmental and resource interests, including water supply and aquifer recharge, industry, fisheries, conservation, tourism, recreation and municipal waste dilution. "A strategic watershed plan is vital to protect the Cowichan's many community values," said NorskeCanada's Don McKendrick. "Through employee awareness and process changes that re-direct and re-use water, we reduced consumption 32% over the last six years-and water use reduction is one of our top long-term priorities." Victoria-based Westland Resource Group has been contracted to develop the plan, including both the technical and public consultation components. The plan's short-term priorities are slated for completion by April 2005, with long-term priorities to be finalized by April 2006.

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