Watershed Protection


The South Nanaimo River Watershed covers approximately 209 square kilometers, spanning both the Regional District of Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley Regional District. While water is a public resource, the land within the watershed is privately held managed forest land, primarily owned by Mosaic Forest Management.  The land and ownership dates back to the original E&N Land Grant. The City of Nanaimo owns the footprint of its two water supply dams, out to the outline of the high-water mark of the two reservoirs, plus a small buffer. The City has an agreement for road access and has rights-of-way over private lands for its pipelines into the city.

jump creek reservoir 2

The land owned by Mosaic is designated as Private Managed Forest.  Practicing forestry on land with Managed Forest status requires adherence to the Private Managed Forest Land Act and over 30 other provincial and federal regulations, of which several are related directly to water quality.  Mosaic also has Progressive Aboriginal Relations Gold Certification, and their forest management practices are certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative standard.   The Ministry of Forests has primary regulatory responsibility for the Managed Forest Program and operations are monitored by the Managed Forest Council.  Other agencies, like Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as well as the Ministry of Water Land and Resource Stewardship also play a regulatory role.

A watershed assessment was completed (by Island Timberlands) in 2001 to understand the physical condition of the watershed.  Resulting from that process, a Watershed Management Plan was developed that identified improvements to existing infrastructure and determined specialized practices to mitigate negative impacts on water quality. A watershed assessment was completed again in 2021 to update watershed condition and recommend further improvements.

The City of Nanaimo and Mosaic engage in cooperative watershed management. Annual joint meetings are held to discuss plans within the watershed, reflecting a shared commitment to water quality.

Water licenses are issued by the Province of BC under the Water Sustainability Act. The City of Nanaimo holds licenses specifying the use of water for public consumption and environmental fisheries flow releases follow the Nanaimo River Water Management Plan.  Water quality is regulated by the Drinking Water Protection Act and Island Health and the City conducts an extensive annual water quality sampling program, exceeding legislative requirements.

Watershed protection consists of many factors:

  • restricted access to the lands,
  • training and education about quality issues,
  • monitoring and review of operations,
  • stream channel protection and drainage improvements,
  • culvert and ditch monitoring,
  • frequent water quality testing,
  • slide monitoring,
  • daily inspections,
  • and promptly replanting cleared areas. 

The City ensures water quality within the supply system through water treatment, annual flushing, regular cleaning and disinfection of storage reservoirs, and certified operators under the BC Environmental Operators Certification Program.

Forestry companies manage various activities within the watershed, including harvesting, tree planting, road building and maintenance, stream crossings, access control, fire prevention, environmental mitigation, and security.

This collaborative and multi-faceted approach to watershed protection demonstrates a strong commitment to maintaining water quality and environmental sustainability, showcasing the importance of cooperation between public and private entities in managing valuable natural resources.

Mosaic watershed tour

Last updated: February 6, 2024

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