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Cowichan Lake Weir Rise

Creating a weir that stores water to offset the impacts of climate change

  • 0.7M

    Weir Rise

  • 8

    Key Species to Pass

  • 3


  • Cowichan Valley, British Columbia

    Cowichan Valley, British Columbia

Mimicking existing natural features to mitigate impacts on fish passage

The Cowichan River on Vancouver Island in British Columbia is important for its fishery and freshwater resources. Climate change is driving longer, hotter, drier summers and there is less water discharging from Cowichan Lake into the river. Our team was hired as prime consultant for the design of a new, larger weir that could store more water at the lake to offset the risk of late-summer drought.

The new weir’s impacts on fish passage were mitigated using a three-part strategy. First, a nature-like step-pool fishway serves as the primary fishway and comprises a rock and gravel area set in a concrete frame for flood resiliency when overtopped. Gated ports control discharge in the fishway over the range of lake levels. Second, stakeholders relayed that the dense vegetation on the island provides fish with velocity refugia and cover from predation while passing when the existing weir is overtopped in high flows. Our solution? To add a vegetated rock and earth ramp downstream of the weir to maintain passage at that location. Finally, the existing vertical slot fishway was preserved and modified to serve as redundancy should the operator choose to use it.

With the project now complete, our innovative, nature-based solutions ensure that this stakeholder-driven project will help mitigate risks from climate change and can be implemented with minimal risk of impact to this important fishery.

Meet Our Team

Alan Ghanam, Managing Principal

The Vancouver Island water group has been on the island for 40 years and has a very strong reputation as a firm that can deliver difficult projects on time and within budget.

Matt Wood, Principal

I help build flood resilient communities by restoring rivers and riparian areas, designing riverine infrastructure, and flood mitigations.

Reza Ghavasieh, Senior Hydrotechnical Engineer

Key indicators for project success are communication, building a relationship with the client, and striving to exceed delivery expectations.
Reza Ghavasieh Senior Hydrotechnical Engineer Read More

Alan Ghanam

Managing Principal

Matt Wood


Reza Ghavasieh

Senior Hydrotechnical Engineer

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