The Cowichan Watershed Board (CWB) is a local governance entity created in 2010 to promote water and watershed sustainability in the Cowichan/Koksilah watersheds, ancestral home of the Quw’utsun First Nation. Co-chaired by Cowichan Tribes and the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD), the Board represents a unique partnership between First Nations and local government. Through this model, Cowichan Tribes and the CVRD work together to advance whole-of-watershed health, demonstrating a commitment to moving down the path of reconciliation.
Purpose: The purpose of the CWB is to serve as a formal entity to improve collaborative management and decision-making to protect and enhance the health of the whole of the Cowichan and Koksilah watersheds (collectively referred to as the Cowichan Watershed).
This includes helping to guide the implementation of the Cowichan Basin Water Management Plan (the Plan) and the associated Targets (the Targets) adopted by the CWB.
Mandate: The CWB’s mandate is to provide leadership for sustainable water management to protect and enhance ecosystem health in the Cowichan Watershed guided by the Cowichan teaching: Muks ‘uw’slhilhukw’tul – We are all inter-connected.
Working in collaboration with Cowichan Tribes, CVRD, and the Provincial and Federal Governments, the Board shall promote wise water management practices throughout the watershed by:
- advocating for the well-being of the watershed;
- guiding and coordinating the implementation of the Plan;
- providing timely, balanced and thoughtful advice to senior and local government authorities including First Nations;
- securing stable funding sources to support water management activities,
- engaging local stakeholders in water management decisions;
- involvement in data-gathering and monitoring the health of the watershed,
- providing and accessing specialized expertise and knowledge for sustainable water management in the Cowichan watershed; and,
- developing public outreach and extension tools to enhance watershed thinking and to increase residents’ understanding of water science, stewardship and management activities.
The Board recognizes that various levels of government exert authority to make management decisions within the Cowichan Watershed including Cowichan Tribes, CVRD, the Province and the Federal Government. The CWB operates within the context of the interplay of these jurisdictions, as shown in the Organizational Structure Diagram below.
[Excerpted from the Cowichan Watershed Board Governance Manual , September 2018 revision]
For more information, please read Pathways and Partnerships: A Framework for Collaboration and Reconciliation in the Cowichan Watershed, September 2018
The Members. The Board's 14 members are appointed as follows:
- Appointed by Cowichan Tribes
- Co-Chair Lydia Hwitsum, Chief of Cowichan Tribes,
- Stuart Pagaduan, Councillor of Cowichan Tribes
- Appointed by CVRD [pending review after CVRD 2022 election]
- Co-Chair Lori Iannidinardo, Chair of CVRD, Director for CVRD Area D
- Alison Nicholson, Director for CVRD Area E
- Debra Toporowski, Director for Municipality of North Cowichan
- Appointed at Large
- The Honourable David Anderson, Former Federal Fisheries Minister, Former Federal Environment Minister
- Tim Kulchyski, Natural Resource Consultant, Cowichan Tribes
- Dr. Shannon Waters, Medical Health Officer for the Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island Health Authority
- Kristine Sandhu, Councillor for Town of Lake Cowichan
- Nominated by Provincial Government
- Dr. David Froese, former fisheries biologist, medical doctor
- David Slade, former President of the BC Groundwater Association
- Nominated by Federal Government
- Linda Higgins, South Coast Area Director, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
More info about our Board members here.
Advisors and Committees
The CWB is assisted in its work by five Working Groups that work to achieve the CWB's Targets for Watershed Health, tangible but aspirational goals rooted in the objectives of the Cowichan Basin Water Management Plan. The members of the Working Groups are invited to serve based on their expertise in the target area, and as representatives of the many stewardship organizations actively working towards these collective goals. The Working Group members are listed in the back of the Annual Plan each year. (see below)
The Board is also grateful to be supported by Advisor Oliver Brandes, economist, lawyer and Co-Director of the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance (UVic) and Director of the POLIS Water Sustainability Project.
Board meetings are normally the last Monday of every month. The public is welcome to attend all meetings. Check the agenda to see if the meeting is in person or online, and request login links/help if needed. Agendas, minutes, and materials for Board meetings are posted by date here. https://cowichanwatershedboard.ca/meetings
Cowichan Watershed Board Announcement, January 28, 2010
Cowichan Basin Water Management Plan, March 2007