South Cowichan Watersheds Planning

South Cowichan Panorama

Why we need a South Cowichan watershed Strategy?


Approximately 17,400 people live in the communities of the South Cowichan watersheds. The area’s temperate climate, high recreational and landscape value, and proximity to larger urban areas (Duncan and Victoria) make the South Cowichan a desirable place for people to live, work, and enjoy recreational pursuits. Water use for farming, cattle rearing, wineries and growing development has already put pressure on the water resources of the South Cowichan.  These pressures and underlying conditions include:

 Pressures  Underlying conditions
  • Unsustainable extraction from water bodies
  • Failing septic systems
  • Contaminated sites
  • Agricultural sources of groundwater contamination
  • Highways and roads
  • Groundwater depletion
  • Forest cover loss and changes
  • Invasive Plants
  •  Climate impacts
    • Increased temperatures
    • Drier summers
    • Wetter falls and winters
    • Increased intensity of winter rain events
  • Population growth

A South Cowichan watershed strategy can help to address many of these issues by:

  • building capacity, improving coordination of activities, pooling of resources,
  • enabling decision makers and the public to become more informed of the current health of the watersheds
  • informing the development of both land use plans and infrastructure planning  
  1. Shawnigan Creek
  2. Mill Bay
  3. Malahat
The Shawnigan Creek watershed is the largest and most populated (10,200 people) of the watersheds in the South Cowichan.  It has an upper area surrounding Shawnigan Lake with steep terrain in which all waterways flow to the lake.  The lower area in the north of the watershed is less steep and includes several streams flowing into Shawnigan Creek.  

The majority of the land immediately surrounding Shawnigan Lake has been developed residentially. Lands at higher elevations surrounding the Lake are primarily used for forest management and timber harvesting activities.  The land adjacent to Shawnigan Creek has been mostly developed for agriculture and residential use.  
Shawnigan Lake