Update on Water Projects
As summer approaches, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) understands that water is top of mind for our community. To better inform residents, the SCRD is providing this update on water supply projects that are underway.
Getting Ready for Summer
This summer, the SCRD is preparing for similar drought periods as the past two years. This means little to no rainfall with extended (100+ days) of drought. With some of the water sources outlined below supplementing water supply, the focus for the SCRD will be on retaining as much water as possible in our main water sources, Chapman and Edwards Lakes for community use through late summer and early fall.
If we have a significant drought, then Stage 4 Water Conservation Regulations (complete ban on outdoor water use) will be in place at some point this summer. The SCRD implements water conservation regulations to ensure that water is available for community use, health purposes and fire suppression through the summer and into the fall. As we have seen from this past year, these regulations helped extend water supply into December.
Below are projects, both short-term and long-term that the SCRD is working on right now to secure water supply for this summer and increase water supply in the coming years.
Church Road Well Field Project
This project has been underway for the past year and initially, will provide upwards of three million litres of water per day to users on the Chapman Water System. Staff are currently working on two main priorities related to this project.
- The potential supply from this well field is up to 4.6 millions litres per day. Through testing, the SCRD has determined that pumps currently in place at this well field will provide roughly three million litres per day. The SCRD is working to have larger pumps installed by June which would allow for more water to be drawn from the well field. Even if the larger pumps cannot be installed in the coming weeks, this well field is anticipated to be online and available for use by June.
- Water licence. The SCRD currently has a conditional water licence that outlines requirements that need to be met before it can receive its final water licence. The SCRD’s consultant has been collecting Soames Creek flow and fish habitat survey data and will be providing this information to the Provincial Government in the next month for their review. A meeting has been scheduled with the Provincial Government to ensure the data is sufficient to obtain the final water licence before June 1.
Gray Creek is used as a water source throughout the summer months and provides roughly one million litres of water to users on the Chapman System per day. However, when rainfall occurs, the SCRD cannot use this source. This is due to what is known as “turbidity.” Rainfall causes particles on the creek bed to mix with the water making it unsafe to drink without some form of treatment at the creek.
Staff have been reviewing options to ensure that Gray Creek can be a more reliable water source. This could include the installation of a portable treatment plant at Gray Creek.
Town of Gibsons Water Supply
The SCRD and the Town of Gibsons are working on an agreement that would allow for the Town of Gibsons to supply water to the Chapman Water System earlier than past summers. Usually, this supply method is used on an emergency basis however being able to use this supply earlier in the summer months would allow more water to be retained at Chapman and Edwards Lakes.
Reduction of Environment Flow Needs
The SCRD is required to release a significant amount of water from Chapman Lake for Environmental Flow Needs (EFN). This water ensures that fish habitat and aquatic ecosystems along Chapman Creek are maintained. The SCRD applied to the Provincial Government to reduce the amount of water that is required for EFN. A reduction in this EFN would allow for more water to be stored at Chapman Lake and Edwards Lake.
During last year’s record-breaking drought, the Chapman Water Treatment plant was close to shutting down on several occasions. This was due to there not being enough water running through the plant to keep it operational. Thanks to the incredible work and creative thinking of SCRD staff, the plant continued functioning throughout the drought period. This year, staff will install pumps which will allow for the plant to function with less water passing through it. This reduces the potential need for any plant shutdown to take place.
Staff will also recalibrate all monitoring equipment that tracks water coming from sources, through the treatment plant and out to the community. This important data contributes to decision making for calling water conservation regulation stages.
Siphons at Chapman Lake
Siphons (pictured) at Chapman Lake are still in place and ensure that water can be accessed from the lake when the channel that brings water from the lake runs dry. These siphons are very effective and do not cause air or noise pollution at the lake. The siphons can be operated on an emergency basis during Stage 4 Water Conservation Regulations.
Last month, the SCRD issued letters to 515 metered households that used the most water this past summer. In some cases, hundreds of thousands of litres of water per month. These households were informed of an immediate need to plan for summer and to reduce their use.
- Long-term projects
Water Meter Project
The project to install water meters in the Sechelt area is moving forward, with a contract for the installations due to be awarded in the coming weeks. In addition, the SCRD is awaiting further information on a six-million-dollar grant application for this project. Further information, including a timeline for installation of the water meters will be available after the contract has been awarded by the SCRD Board.
Raw Water Reservoir
The SCRD is moving ahead with important analysis of a site for a potential water reservoir. This site, known as “Site B,” is located above the Sechelt Airport. Work underway through April includes geotechnical drilling to determine the potential for this area to be used as a reservoir.
Langdale Well Field
Testing of two production sized test wells at Langdale Well Field has been completed and results are being analyzed for both water quality and supply. Results from this well field have appeared favourable so far. Next steps will include a report for the SCRD Board, along with a design of the required pump house building at the site. Staff will then prepare water licence applications for the Provincial Government.
In early 2023, for the first time, a Water Summit Series was initiated to bring elected officials from local governments across the lower Sunshine Coast together. The first two meetings occurred in January and March and focused on building understanding and identifying collaborative values. The next meeting is scheduled for May to develop a vision that will lead to a broad plan of action. The plan will help advance the most impactful, efficient, and sustainable water projects.
Rainwater Harvesting Rebates
The SCRD offers rebates to residents who wish to install rainwater harvesting systems on their properties. Rebate are offered for larger capacity storage systems due to these systems being more effective than smaller rain barrels in supplying water during periods of drought.
Already this year, over $19,000 worth of rebates have been per-approved for residents. The SCRD has provided 183 rebates since the program began in 2018. Learn more at https://www.scrd.ca/rainwater.
On Thursday, April 6, at the Committee of the Whole meeting, SCRD infrastructure staff will provide a water supply update to the SCRD Board and to the community. This meeting will also include reports on water projects and water supply scenarios for this summer. Anyone can attend this meeting in the SCRD Boardroom at 1975 Field Road in Sechelt. Agendas and links to join virtually or watch the meeting online can be found at www.scrd.ca/agendas.