How are we adapting
- Mandate - Local government's legislative mandate includes many services that will be directly impacted by climate change - from infrastructure and utilities to parks and recreation. Adapting to new climate conditions is crucial to continuing to deliver high quality services.
- Local Scale - As the level of government closest to the community, local governments are well placed to identify unique vulnerabilities to climate change and to prepare responses tailored to the regional and community needs.
- Managing Risk - Proactive adaptation planning can bolster the region's existing risk management by anticipating and mitigating future risks, as well as identifying and making the most of potential benefits.
- Fiscal responsibility - the cost of climate change for Canada is expected to be $21-43 billion by 2015, depending on global efforts to curb emissions and economic and population growth. Adaptation can significantly reduce these costs and is a fiscally prudent measure given the extent of services affected by climate change.
Some of our work to help adapt to climate change-related impacts includes:
- Flood planning, which includes flood infrastructure and upgrades (e.g., dikes) and removing excess river sediment built up due to winter storms;
- Developing a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for our infrastructure to help cope with changing regional conditions;
- Developing up-to-date information about critical water resources both in our lakes and rivers and in our aquifers, so that we can manage this limited resource more effectively;
- Working in partnership with the Cowichan Watershed Board, the Cowichan River Stewardship Roundtable, Shawnigan Basin Authority, and others to foster community stewardship of our natural resources.
- Gathering critical information such as snow levels and groundwater flows, helping us to manage water resources more carefully;
- Completing natural hazard risk assessments for flood, sea level rise and slope failure to determine potential impacts to some of our communities; and
- Working closely with a range of agricultural partners to develop and support the sharing of resources, tools and knowledge to ensure a robust agricultural sector in the future.
It's a new normal, Cowichan
Long-term, strategic water preparednessDrought will be a part of the ‘new normal’ in the Cowichan region, and is putting our water supply under extreme stress. These conditions have serious implications for our economy and ecology, but the good news is that there are practical, effective solutions that our region as a whole, and each of us individually, can take to adapt to this new reality. The first step is to change our thinking around water. The new normal is water scarcity, not water abundance, and all actions must flow from this reality. We also need to prepare ourselves for tough conditions and decisions in order to protect our water supply.
The CVRD is leading the response at the regional level, working in partnership with our communities. Together we are developing a long-term, strategic water preparedness plan to make sure our water supply is protected. We are laying the groundwork for larger solutions such as increasing our capacity to store water during wet periods to make sure there is enough to get us through the dry periods, building flood management systems to minimize damage, and working with key sectors such as agriculture to ensure they have the tools and resources to support us in the future.
At the personal level, each of us can do our part by being DroughtSmart and FloodSmart – and taking advantage of the many SmartTools designed to make living the new normal easier. With a little bit of effort you can help keep our water supply and quality of life intact. The provincial Drought Portal is a useful page for information on current drought conditions across the province.
There are small things you can do to help our region better manage water, including becoming more aware of your watershed. Together we can ‘live the new normal’ of our limited water supply and continue to enjoy all the benefits of living here.
|Our region is made up of a range of areas that are susceptible to flooding including defined floodplains along rivers or lakes, localized stormwater ponding, and storm surge along our shorelines. Each resident is encouraged to take care in these areas and ensure that any dwellings or other infrastructure is built to withstand the impact of standing or moving water.|
|As of 2004 it became the responsibility of local governments to maintain and update floodplain maps for their communities. The CVRD has completed floodplain mapping for the following floodplains.|
Lower Cowichan / Koksilah River
|The original provincial floodplain maps for our region can be found through the Index of Designated Floodplain Areas for Vancouver Island. Floodplains in our Region include:|
Climate change is likely to have a major impact on wildland fire across our Region. On average, wildland fire threatens about 20 communities and 70,000 people annually in Canada, and fire management costs Canada about $700 million a year. Both the area burned and costs will rise as a result of climate change. In British Columbia, fire records show that the wildfire season has been increasing in length by one to two days a year since at least 1980. While the trend is clear and well accepted, there is uncertainty about the rate and duration of change, in part because these factors depend on future emissions scenarios.
Visit the Cowichan New Normal website for information on the current fire hazard and tools to help you FireSmart your home and property.
The CVRD supports the protection of our properties and communities from fire. The CVRD's Public Safety Division coordinates public response and emergency management.