Nanoose Watershed Map

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DWWP Quick Facts

This subsection of Water Region 5 covers the Nanoose area. The forested headlands are drained by small creeks such as Bonnell and Nanoose Creeks. The water for residents in this region comes from groundwater sources - the bedrock and sand & gravel aquifers that underlie this area.

It includes RDN Electoral Area E, which is primarily rural residential and suburban.

Base LayerLand UseWater SupplyAquifersStreams & WaterbodiesFirst Nations SignificanceCommunity Programs

Base Layer

Land Use

Forestry and rural residential land uses primarily make up this 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.

The land base of Electoral Area 'E' is covered in this water region, which has an Official Community Plan - Area E - OCP - to guide development.

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

Water Supply

The drinking water supply in this water region 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 community water systems in this water region:

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, bedrock aquifers are an important source of drinking water. The type of rock is known as the "Nanaimo Group", which is about six kilometers thick of compacted mud and stone layers with fractures that can hold water. Many of these fractures cannot hold a lot of water and take time to recharge or "refill" when water is extracted.

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

  • (#396) off Ballenas Road monitors water levels in surficial sand & gravel aquifer 219.
  • (#393) on Dawson Road monitors water levels in an unmapped surficial aquifer on the west side of the island highway.
  • (#397) off Northwest Bay Road monitors water levels in surficial aquifer 219.
  • (#394) on Nuttal Drive monitors water levels in bedrock aquifer 218.
  • (#395) on River's Edge Drive monitors water levels in the sand & gravel aquifer 219.
  • (#340) in Lantzville on Valmar Road, monitors water levels in surficial sand and gravel aquifer 215.

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 smaller watersheds of Craig Creek (drains into the Salish Sea south of the Englishman River in Parksville); Nanoose Creek and Bonnel Creek (which both drain into Nanoose Bay). There are three notable lakes in this water region: Boomerang Lake in the upper Bonnel watershed; Enos and Dolphin lakes on the Nanoose Peninsula.

Key stewardship groups that are active in this region include: the Nanoose-Lantzville Streamkeepers.

Historically, streamflow and level (hydrometric data) was monitored by the Water Survey of Canada in:

  • Bonnel Creek near Nanoose (1991-1992)
  • Enos Lake near Nanoose Bay (1962-1978)
  • Nanoose Creek at the mouth (1970 -1972)
The RDN DWWP program is looking at options to support the re-activation of a hydrometric station on Nanoose Creek.

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 5, based on available data.

First Nations Significance

This water region is within the traditional territories of the Snaw-naw-as or 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.

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]