The Elk/Beaver Lake sub-watershed is the headwaters for the Colquitz River system which flows through the District of Saanich and into the ocean at Portage Inlet. Elk/Beaver Lake includes two major basins, separated by a shallow inter-lake channel. The 2.24 km2 combined lake area receives water from a 7.82 km2 upstream sub-watershed drainage area. Water flows into Elk Lake from O’Donnel Creek and Hamsterly Creek and into Beaver Lake from Haliburton Brook and Linnet Creek. Many stormwater drainages also carry water into the lake. A section of the Patricia Bay Highway runs directly beside part of the east shore of the lake. Land cover in the watershed includes low and medium density residential, forest, pasture, annual cropland, wetlands, and some open lands, as illustrated in Colquitz River Watershed (2011) map.

Environmental Concerns have been identified at Elk/Beaver Lake and are being addressed through the Elk/Beaver Lake Initiative.

Did You Know?

  • Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park constitutes 56% of the land area in the watershed. Privately owned residential and agricultural properties occupy the remaining 47%.
  • Elk Lake was a drinking water source for the City of Victoria up to 1914, and supplied water to the Saanich Peninsula until 1977.
  • The lakes are stocked by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations with approximately 18,000 rainbow trout each year.
  • Water from Elk Lake basin flows south into Beaver Lake basin where a dam maintains minimum downstream flows to the Colquitz River for the purpose of potential salmon migration.
  • Water quality at Elk/Beaver Lake has been declining since the 1960s. Efforts are underway to address water quality issues through the Elk/Beaver Lake Initiative.


A number of reports have been produced to describe and summarize water quality issues and assess remediation solutions at Elk/Beaver Lake. The Reports can be found under the Elk/Beaver Lake Initiative.

Interesting Facts

Municipal jurisdictions Saanich; Capital Regional District
Total Drainage Area (watershed) 782ha
Lake Area 224ha
Elk Lake maximum depth 19m
Beaver Lake maximum depth 8m
Highest elevation in watershed 220m
Shoreline elevation 70m
Major inflow tributaries O’Donnel Creek, Hamsterly Creek, Haliburton Brook, Linnet Creek
Outflow tributary Colquitz River
Aquatic ecosystems Submerged plants, lake, benthic, littoral
Terrestrial ecosystems Coastal Douglas-fir forest; emergent and submerged wetlands; beaches and open space
Watershed land uses Low and medium density residential, forest, pasture, annual cropland, wetlands, and Regional Park
Environmental concerns High levels of nutrients (eutrophication) in the lake. This has led to toxic blue-green algae blooms, poor fish habitat and increased aquatic plant growth. Another significant concern is invasive species.