French Creek Watershed Map

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RDN Watershed Map > French Creek

DWWP Quick Facts

The French Creek Water Region consists of steep forested headlands that drain from the mountains at 1080 meters above sea level, and the more gentle topography of the Nanaimo lowlands.

The total drainage area is approximately 121 sq. km.

It includes most of the communities of Parksville, Qualicum Beach,and parts of Electoral Area F (including Hilliers, Coombs and Errington) and Area G (French Creek).

Base LayerLand UseWater SupplyAquifersStreams & WaterbodiesFirst Nations SignificanceCommunity Programs

Base Layer

Land Use

Private managed forest land makes up the upper watershed area in the French Creek 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 significant spread of farm-related land uses and several rural village centres including Hilliers, Coombs and Errington.

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

This water region includes two municipalities: Town of Qualicum Beach and City of Parksville.

There are two 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 is predominantly 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.

There are also several Water Suppliers in this water region.

  • The City of Parksville supplies its residents with groundwater as well as surface water from the Englishman River in the summer.
  • The Town of Qualicum Beach has its own community wells to provide groundwater year round.
  • French Creek residents get their drinking water supplied by Epcor , again from groundwater aquifers.
  • There is also a small community well system run by the RDN in French Creek.
  • Another small RDN Water Service Area is Surfside, just north of the Town of Qualicum Beach.

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 that are the main source of drinking water. This includes provincially mapped aquifers 220, 212 (bedrock) and 217, 216 (sand and gravel) and small portions of 663, 664 (also sand and gravel).

Groundwater monitoring is ongoing in this region, with Provincial Observation Wells:

  • (#287) in Coombs on Burgoyne Road that monitors water levels in bedrock aquifer 220.
  • (#295) in Qualicum Beach on Berwick Road that monitors water levels in surficial aquifer 217.
  • (#321) in Qualicum Beach on Leeward Way that monitors water levels in surficial aquifer 217.
  • (#303) in Qualicum Beach on Yambury Road that monitors water levels in surficial aquifer 217.
  • (#434) in Qualicum Beach on Garden Road East that monitors water levels in the shallow lens in aquifer 217.
See the BC Groundwater Observation Wells interactive map

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 French Creek as well as the neighbouring smaller watersheds including Grandon Creek and Morningstar Creek which all drain into the Salish Sea at the Strait of Georgia. There are no large lakes in this water region - though there is a significant wetland, Hamilton Marsh.

French Creek 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. This watershed is extremely important for many different species of fish, including Coho, Chinook, Chum and Pink salmon. The steelhead and cutthroat trout populations are depressed.

Key stewardship groups that are active in this region include: the Friends of French Creek Conservation Society.

Streamflow is not currently monitored a Water Survey of Canada hydrometric gauge, but it is monitored 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 3, based on available data.

First Nations Significance

This water region is within the traditional territories of the Qualicum First Nation and the Nanoose 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]

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