Thanks to everyone who supported the Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Service Establishment Bylaw. It passed by a vote of 12,890 to 6,667.
Water is central to our quality of life in the Cowichan region. It’s also foundational to protecting First Nation rights and culture. The election results will allow a Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Service to be built around three principles--stronger local data, smarter decisions and effective investments.
See our video: 6 Reasons to Vote Yes for Water.
12 Reasons We Voted Yes for Water:
- Protect water sources--More than 44 water utilities treat and provide drinking water across the region. We need targeted initiatives that protect our drinking water from depletion and pollution at the source. Our water bills don’t pay for this important work.
- Increase climate resilience--Climate impacts like this summer’s stage-4 drought are already taking place in the Cowichan. A water service will provide the tools and resources to respond to these changes, track local climate trends and prepare for future impacts
- Attract infrastructure funding--A formal water service can attract funding from senior levels of government to help rebuild the weir at Cowichan Lake; improve wastewater management, especially where effluent is being released into river systems; or address salt water intrusion in our existing infrastructure, such as the Chemainus marine industrial area.
- Strengthen food security--Farmers here depend on reliable access to water and so do their customers. Local fisheries, from salmon to trout, are an important source of food for First Nations. Better information about our surface and groundwater will strengthen the Cowichan’s food security and uphold our region’s reputation as a world-class food producer.
- Preserve water ecosystems--A water service can provide resources that scale up important local protection efforts – from restoration projects to salmonid enhancement--that play a key role in preserving our natural spaces and recreation areas.
- Support smarter development--With better local data and an integrated approach to managing land and water, information on water quality, availability and sustainability can be included in decision-making so we can make sure future developments conserve, capture and protect water instead of harming it.
- Protect property values--Better access to information will help land owners address water issues on their property--from flooding risks to diminishing access to groundwater--and avoid damage and unexpected costs, ultimately making their land investments more secure.
- Reduce demand--Programs that help water users consume less and capture new sources will reduce pressure on the water we’ve got, helping it go further for a greater number of people.
- Save money--Using less water reduces our household bills. A better understanding of groundwater can save the cost of a new or expanded well. And more efficient water use and planning mean fewer taxpayer dollars are needed for water infrastructure.
- Shape water decisions--With timely local data and strong partnerships, regional districts can positively influence how senior levels of government, private industry, and others make decisions that affect our water, from licensing to land use.
- Harness local knowledge--Communities often know best about their needs and play an important role in addressing them. A new water service could provide reliable resources to First Nations and local stewardship groups, who coordinate thousands of volunteer hours each year to deliver on-the-ground cost-effective watershed restoration and protection projects.
- Reduce the risks of living downstream--A region-wide water service will allow us to protect watersheds and groundwater resources that span our communities and jurisdictions, while also responding to the place-based needs of different communities. This creates more security for all water users in the region.
Have questions? See One Cowichan's FAQs on the Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Referendum.
Authorized by One Cowichan, registered sponsor under LECFA, email@example.com