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SCRD water update: Future of Chapman Lake siphon unclear

Also, how much rain would need to fall to see a return to Stage 1 or 2 restrictions for the Chapman system?
Chapman Lake August 25 2022
Chapman Lake as photographed on Aug. 25

Chapman Lake’s water level was 310 centimetres below the top of its weir on Sept. 7, according to the water supply report provided to the Sunshine Coast Regional District committee of the whole on Sept. 8.

“Siphons are being deployed and we are releasing water from Edwards Lake to maintain water supply,” manager of infrastructure services Remko Rosenboom told the committee.

Siphoning from Chapman may end in 2023

Use of that siphon in future years may be at risk.

“The siphon system is currently authorized under an emergency clause in the BC Parks Act. Rationale for that is that it allows for BC Parks to authorize works within a Class A park if there is an imminent emergency situation in a community,” Rosenboom explained. He said that clause has been used to allow the siphon and that permits in the past had been granted for two years. In 2022, BC Parks granted a one-year renewal, citing SCRD efforts to develop other water sources. He said renewal of permission to use the siphon in 2023 is not guaranteed.

Being told of the possibility of not being able to use that system moving forward left Area B director Lori Pratt “feeling a little bit sick.”

“Chapman is still the main supplier of water for our region. We should pressure the province for more certainty around being able to use Chapman in years going forward,” she said

“I am very clear on the wording from that came from Minister Heyman not allowing an expansion [of the SCRD’s water system] on Chapman three years ago, and that they wanted us to explore other sources…but we are experiencing extreme weather events and dry periods that are expanding,” she said.

Pratt indicated she would raise the issue of writing to the Ministry of Environment on the matter at a future board meeting.

Other sources feeding Chapman water system  

Rosenboom went on to report that a second siphon system, on Edward Lake, is being developed and that staff are connecting with the regulators of the required environmental and archaeological permits for its deployment. He said he anticipated it may be needed to maintain water supply for the Chapman system by the end of September.

Water from Gray Creek has been fed into the Chapman system, which serves most SCRD water users south of the Secret Cove area, since Aug. 10 and water from the Chaster well has been added to that system since July 20.

The report indicated that a minimum 100 mm of rain would need to fall to recharge Chapman Lake to the level that would allow the system it feeds to go back to Stage 1 or 2 restrictions. 

Recreation effects of water restrictions

The return of skating to the Sunshine Coast Arena in Sechelt won’t happen until Stage 4 water conservation measures are lifted on the Chapman water system, according to the report.

Ice installation at the site on Shoal Way had been slated for mid-September after annual maintenance work is performed. The potential delay of ice mirrors what happened last year when acute water restrictions and the proposed start of the skating season also collided.  

Other SCRD recreation facilities affected by water restrictions include its sports fields, which are not being watered, Sechelt Aquatic Centre where the hot tub is closed and Shirley Macey Park where the splash pad is not being operated.