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Politicians, business people and youth for community action and watershed security

In the Cowichan Valley, a watershed-wide community with members across all occupational sectors and of all ages is taking a stand for water security in the Warmland.

Lynne Smith is the Regional Director for Area G of the Cowichan Valley Regional District. It was in 2018 that Lynne was encouraged by her community to run for office, she cites that encouragement as stemming from her knowledge of community goings-ons but says what was, and is, really important to her is “sustainability of our community.” As the Regional Director for Saltair and the Gulf Islands, Lynne sees a need to use her position in our community to promote education and inclusion.

“As we move forward and plan for the future of our community, we need to work together, and water needs to be our number one priority. We cannot be fragmented in our actions.” 

And Lynne believes that the time for action is indeed now.

“We no longer have the same snowpack on our mountains,” she says. “We aren't getting the same levels of precipitation that we once did. It’s the same story everywhere.”

She finishes by saying, “It’s now time to ask: How do we continue to have access to clean water when we turn on our taps?”

Businessman David Slade knows a thing or two about clean tap water. David is a — now mostly retired — partner with Drillwell, a family-owned third-generation waterwell drilling business in the Cowichan Valley.

“Growing up in the water well drilling business I have an intimate relationship with groundwater and an understanding of it’s connections with surface water, and I’ve come to the realization that it’s more than just important to our business, it’s important to our survival,” he said.

Through a lifetime of working with and appreciating water, David has been able to see many of the threats that are putting our watershed at risk up close and personal.

“My concerns for our water are not just for me as a business person, or a custodian of the resource,” says the 10 year veteran of the Cowichan Watershed Board, “but for my grandchildren, and the future that we are creating for them.”

Eighteen-year-old Katia Bannister is not only a resident of Area G but also one of the children and grandchildren of today. And to her, a healthy watershed is our best chance at meeting the challenges posed by a changing climate. Frequent heat waves, salmon-bearing rivers running dry, drinking water shortages — all connected to changes in climate, such as the disappearing snowpack and less frequent rains in the coastal temperate rainforest as Lynne Smith mentioned.

“Fostering a prosperous future,” Katia says, “means fostering a thriving watershed, supported by resilient communities of people who care about water. For drinking, for agriculture, for fishing, for recreation, for healthy ecosystems — for every way we rely on our watershed. Building these watershed-wide communities, and building them to stand the test of time is how we will guarantee our water for generations to come.”

Lynne, David and Katia are all CodeBlue BC Champions. CodeBlue is a plan to secure and sustain watersheds in British Columbia. As local leaders in the Cowichan Valley and Champions for CodeBlue, this trio of water defenders are perfect examples of why BC needs this plan, which includes giving local people the power and resources to restore and manage their local water source. Sound like something you could dive into? Sign up at

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