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Gibsons to start supplying aquifer water to Zone 3 by end of month

The Town of Gibsons expects to have watermain connections finished and a new pump station commissioned by July 31 as it moves forward with taking Zone 3 water service off the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) system.
Zone 3
A map showing the Town of Gibsons water service Zone 3 (in red), which will soon switch from SCRD water to water from the Gibsons Aquifer.

The Town of Gibsons expects to have watermain connections finished and a new pump station commissioned by July 31 as it moves forward with taking Zone 3 water service off the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) system.

Director of infrastructure services Dave Newman gave councillors in Gibsons an update during a July 21 committee of the whole meeting.

There are three main projects linked to connecting Zone 3 to the Gibsons Aquifer, which already supplies the Town’s two other water service zones: A $1.3 million water main replacement project on Arbutus Reach, Prowse Road, and Reed Road;

A $1.2 million booster pump and chlorinator, which is expected to be complete in late July; And a new well and pump on Oceanmount Lane at a cost of $729,000.

Newman told the committee that staff and contractors “have been focusing on the watermains that are required in order to facilitate the switchover to aquifer water in Zone 3,” which includes two sections of watermain on Reed.

He also said the new booster and chlorinator are “very close to completion.”

“There's a few bits of equipment left to, to be installed, but we're shooting for the week of [July] 27th to be commissioning the station and turning on the pumps. So that will be a big day for us and we’re working with the Regional District on that, and we're trusting that everything will go smoothly.”

The Town sent a notice to residents earlier this month that as part of the work it is chlorinating the water system “as a precautionary measure” until sometime in mid-August. Chlorination will continue for Zone 3 even after it switches to the aquifer supply because some SCRD water will still be needed at times of high demand and Vancouver Coastal Health will not allow the Town to mix the chlorinated SCRD supply with unchlorinated water. 

Newman also told the committee that his department is prepared for issues such as pressure changes as the new source is brought online and has budgeted the money to deal with fixing any problems.

“We are also prepared to switch back over to the [SCRD] while we fix any problems,” he said.

Newman said the new well – known as Well 6 – is still in the design stages and the Town is awaiting approval from the Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development for a water licence.

“[Well 6] is not required for Zone 3 at this stage, but it does provide us with some redundancy,” Newman said.

In his written report, Newman also noted that testing on Well 6 shows it could “be the largest producing Town well at an estimated 1900 cubic meters per day,” which would produce enough water for an estimated population of 7,200 and enough to meet the maximum daily demand for 6,000.

As part of the switchover the Town is also renegotiating the bulk water supply contract with the SCRD and hopes to use some of the money saved to help finance the Zone 3 project.

In a recent update for directors, SCRD staff said in 2019 about 5.36 per cent of the water from its Chapman system went to supply Zone 3 in Gibsons and the estimated revenue loss when the Town starts buying less water will be about $145,000, although the SCRD also expects to save about $8,000 per year in operating costs for the pump station currently sending Chapman water to Zone 3.

Staff with both governments are still finalizing the details of a new agreement.

Gibsons mayor Bill Beamish called the upcoming switch from SCRD to aquifer water for Zone 3 “a fairly significant milestone” and suggested marking the event formally with a photo op and the handing over of a bottle of Gibsons Aquifer water to the chair of the SCRD.

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