Englishman River Watershed Map

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RDN Watershed Map > Englishman River

DWWP Quick Facts

The Englishman River flows in an easterly direction from Mount Arrowsmith at 1819 m above sea level and discharges into the Strait of Georgia, north of Craig Bay. The main Englishman and South Englishman rivers originate in Arrowsmith, Hidden and Fishtail lakes.

Th total drainage area is approximately 324 sq. km.

The watershed includes parts of Electoral Areas F and G and the City of Parksville.

Base LayerLand UseWater SupplyAquifersStreams & WaterbodiesFirst Nations SignificanceCommunity Programs

Base Layer

Land Use

Private managed forest land almost entirely makes up the upper watershed area in the Englishman River water region.

The private managed forestry lands are overseen by the Managed Forest Council. The two largest private forest companies are TimberWest and Island Timberlands.

There is some farm-related land use in this region and some rural residential areas.

The RDN has an Agriculture Area Plan that contains a regional strategy for sustainable farming and related land uses.

There are notable regional and community parks in this Water Region:

This water region includes the municipality of the City of Parksville, who is responsible for land use planning in the urban area of the lower watershed.

There are two Regional District of Nanaimo Electoral Areas that overlap this water region, each of which have Official Community Plans (OCPs) for their land base:

Water Supply

The drinking water supply for the City of Parksville comes from the Englishman River (Englishman River Water Service) in the summer time, and from groundwater wells year-round. The areas outside the municipality of Parksville in this Water Region rely solely on groundwater coming from the area's aquifers. Many residents supply their own water from private wells (indicated by the pink dots on the map).The RDN wellSMART program provides information on private wells.

The RDN operates two water systems in this Water Region:

  • San Pareil, which supplies groundwater from the lower Englishman River aquifer.
  • Englishman River water service area supplies the community of River's Edge with groundwater.

Island Health Authority is responsible for the oversight of drinking water quality in community water systems.

Education and networking opportunities exist for smaller water system operators, such as mobile home parks, restaurants, campsites, gas stations etc. The Water Purveyor Working Group meets annually, click here for details.

Team WaterSmart has information on what you can do to conserve and protect our water supply.


In this water region, there are bedrock aquifers and sand and gravel aquifers. This includes provincially mapped aquifers 220 (bedrock) and 209, 216, 219, 221 (sand and gravel).

Groundwater monitoring is ongoing in the more developed aquifers in this region, with Provincial Observation Wells:

  • (#314) in Parksville on Springhill Road that monitors water levels in surfical aquifer 216.
  • (#304) in Parksville on Despard Road that monitors water levels in surficial aquifer 216.
  • (#398) in Parksville on Trill Road that monitors water levels in surficial aquifer 216.
  • (#395) in Nanoose on River's Edge Drive that monitors water levels in aquifer 219.
See the BC Groundwater Observation Wells interactive map

Study of the groundwater-surface water interaction of the bedrock aquifer (#220) that intercepts the Englishman River is being done in partnership with GW Solutions Hydrogeolgists, Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society with the support of the DWWP program. See more about that study here.

Further study on the aquifers in this region was accomplished through a partnership with Natural Resource Canada / Geological Survey of Canada who completed the Nanaimo Lowlands Aquifer Characterization project between 2010 - 2015. Three-dimensional modelling of the aquifers was done for the area between Deep Bay and Nanoose.

The Provincial Water Protection and Sustainability Branch is responsible for groundwater legislation.

For more on groundwater and aquifers, see Aquifers 101.

Streams & Waterbodies

This water region includes the Englishman River, including its tributaries: South Englishman River, Moriarty Creek, Morison Creek, Swane Creek - as well as the neighbouring smaller watershed of Shelly Creek - which all drain into the Salish Sea at the Strait of Georgia. Arrowsmith Lake is the headwaters of the Englishman River, and has a dam that aids in storing water for the summer period for Parksville & Nanoose drinking water and fish flows.

Englishman River has been designated by the Ministry of Environment as a 'Sensitive Stream' that requires special management attention, under the Fisheries Protection Act, because of risk to fish populations due to inadequate water flows and other habitat concerns. It is also designated a Community Watershed because it supplies residents with drinking water. This watershed is extremely important for many different species of fish, including Steelhead, Cutthroat trout, Coho, Chinook, Chum and Pink salmon.

Key stewardship groups that are active in this region include: the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society.

Streamflow is monitored a Water Survey of Canada hydrometric gauge in the lower Englishman River near Parksville. Flow is also monitored in nearby Shelly Creek and Morison Creek by the local stewardship group with the assistance of BC Conservation Foundation.

The Province of BC is responsible for freshwater regulations, see the Water Sustainability Act for more information.

The RDN Phase 1 Water Budget Study (2013) looked at supply and demand on surface water resources in Water Region 4, based on available data.

First Nations Significance

This water region is within the traditional territories of the Nanoose First Nation and the Qualicum First Nation. This area is rich with cultural significance and the waters and lands are closely connected with First Nations peoples and their ancestors.

There were six Salish languages (Hul'qami'num, Snuneymuxqun, Sqo'mish, she shashishalhem, Tla'amin, Comox, and Pentlatch) spoken traditionally in the RDN. In addition, Nuu chah Nulth, Kwakwala, and Sencothen languages would also bump up against the boundaries of the district. And Chinook was also used as a trading language.

Each piece of land is known by different families, communities, First Nations, dialects and languages by similar and dissimilar names. The land belongs to the name. The name does not belong to the land. In this way, there is more than one "Qualicum", for example: one near Port Renfrew and one also near Bellingham.

We have recorded here (in partnership with School District 69) as many names as we have been able to find. We recognize that more names are out there, and we are always happy to include them if you are open to sharing with us. Email creid [at] sd69.bc.ca

Traditional ecological knowledge is vital to understanding our watersheds and their health.

Community Programs

RDN Rebates Rebate programs are available for residents across the region to conserve and protect water. Currently being offered are: The RDN's Team WaterSmart offers education and outreach programs across the region. They provide activities and resources on water conservation indoors and outdoors, water quality protection, and ecological values.
  • Workshops
  • Irrigation Initiatives
  • Brochures
  • Events Calendar
School education opportunities are also offered across the region including:
  • Classroom Visits
  • Field Trips
  • Teacher Professional Development
Volunteer opportunities are sometimes available for private well owners, stream stewards and more.
  • I want to volunteer my well for monitoring
  • I want to volunteer with stream monitoring Email: watersmart [at] rdn.bc.ca