Watershed 4: Englishman River
The Englishman River flows in an easterly direction from Mount Arrowsmith and discharges into the Strait of Georgia, north of Craig Bay. The main Englishman and South Englishman rivers originate in Arrowsmith, Hidden and Fishtail lake. The watershed includes parts of Electoral Areas F and G and the City of Parksville. The highest elevation in the watershed is Mount Arrowsmith, at 1819 metres, and this important watershed has a drainage area of 324 km2.
The South Englishman River, Swane Creek, Morison Creek, Shelley Creek and Centre Creek all drain into the Englishman River. The Englishman River is an important fisheries river, and, through the Arrowsmith Water Service, provides additional summer water supply for the City of Parksville and the Nanoose area. Water is stored behind a dam in Arrowsmith Lake and released as needed. Fish in the Englishman River include Trout, Steelhead and Salmon. The Englishman River is identified as a 'Sensitive Stream' requiring special management attention under the Fisheries Protection Act. This is because of risk to fish populations due to inadequate water flows and other habitat concerns. It is also designated as a Community Watershed, because it supplies residents with drinking water.
This watershed area includes parts of aquifers 221, 214, 209, 216, and 220. Several aquifers in this watershed area are showing signs of stress. Water levels in aquifers 216 and 220 have been dropping over the past several years (see graph to the left). This means that less water is available for rural residents who rely on wells for drinking water, and less water is available in streams for fish. Surface water and groundwater are connected in this watershed, and in the summer when there is no rain, groundwater should be contributing base flow to the local rivers. Unfortunately, dropping groundwater levels means lower flows in streams, and decreased fish health in the Englishman River and its tributaries.