Water…not just a Sunshine Coast issue.

“World Water Day” is this Thursday, March 22nd although I have to admit, for this SCRD Director, lately every day seems like water day! Despite concerns from those who oppose the Chapman Drawdown project either because it is in a Provincial Park, or because current policy is that it will only provide water when we need it, not when we want it, the Board recently voted to continue with the project as part of the Comprehensive Regional Water Plan. 

This week a CBC article with regards to Vancouver’s water future caught my attention.  While there are differences beyond the obvious one of scale (for example, our water supply is less snowpack sensitive) the themes are strikingly similar.  Vancouver appears to be moving in the direction of water metering. They are emphasizing  conservation-oriented a Drought Management Plan. They need to find more supply options. Climate change is impacting their supply more than population growth, as is the case here.

I would encourage you to read the entire article, but the observation below stood out:

“When it comes to expanding supplies, there are a few options. The simplest is to draw reservoirs down to a lower water level than they currently are by adding an intake pipe closer to the bottom.”

As a Board member who came to the same conclusion in 2015, and continues to take the position that we should have access to the deeper reaches of our historical community water supply when needed (despite it being recently wrapped in a protective Provincial Park) the statement seemed refreshingly clear. Vancouver’s Drawdown project on Coquitlam Lake, planned for 2030, has an estimated cost of $800 million.

The full article is available here:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/vancouver-water-shortage-climate-snowpack-conservation-1.4562900

Siphon Photo

In the meantime, those who have opposed to any further changes to Chapman Lake would do well to consider the ecological implications of the alternatives, along with whether a siphon, with its mandated daily helicopter visits, operational risks and vulnerable infrastructure is what we want downstream salmon and humans to be reliant upon in either the short or medium terms. The SCRD is expecting to hear from the Province with regards to the Chapman Drawdown Project shortly.

Here is an update on the status of that project and the SCRD’s 3 other supply-related initiatives.