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Rain delivers mixed results for Chapman Water System

Rainfall measured at Chapman Lake on Aug 8 and 9 totalled 26 mm. That had “a positive impact” for the Chapman Water System according to Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) utility manager Shane Walkey in his Aug 10 water update.
The SCRD's portions of Chapman Lake siphon infrastructure is sitting "high and dry" on the lake shore as of Aug. 10.

Rainfall this week had a "positive impact" for the Chapman Water System but it's not all good news, according to Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) utility manager Shane Walkey in his Aug 10 water update.

Rainfall measured at Chapman Lake on Aug 8 and 9 totalled 26 mm Walkey said in the update. The precipitation, while not enough to delay the Aug. 11 start of Stage 3 restrictions for system users, will likely result in some stabilization of the lake level, he said. Due to continued warmer-than-normal temperatures throughout early August, he said the amount of stored lake water had been decreasing “by a per cent or two every day."

Increased creek flows and turbidity

Walkey noted that the recent rains had mixed results for other Chapman water system sources. Rain-related flows from tributaries into Chapman Creek did add to that waterway’s supplies.

But the rain also resulted in turbidity at Gray Creek, which affected water quality and required the SCRD to halt use of that supply until conditions improve.

Between July 30 and Aug. 5, 79 per cent of the Chapman System supply originated from the lake. Gray Creek supplied 16 per cent, with smaller contributions from the Chaster well and Grantham systems. With discussions between the SCRD and Gibsons related to aquifer 560 ongoing, no water from the Town has been accessed. Supply to the Chapman system from the Church Road Well Field, was taken off-line during in late July, but was re-started after the B.C. Day holiday.

Church Road operates within 'proper allowances'

Walkey noted that during the well field’s downtime, “analysis of an electrical component” of the site’s infrastructure was done and that materials to improve operations were ordered. Those are slated to be delivered in “one to two weeks." In the meantime, Walkey said that the site equipment was being operated within “proper allowances” and that as of Aug. 10, volumes of 15 to 25 litres per second were being pumped from the wells. As a comparison, he noted that the Chaster well produces water at about 10 litres per second.

In Walkey’s view, progress has been made on the SCRD’s request to the province to allow temporary reductions to Chapman Creek environmental flow needs (EFN) so that additional creek water can be diverted to the system. He said staff-level discussions, including consultations with biologists to ensure the health of the creek can be maintained if the EFN is reduced, are continuing and that the regional district is expecting more information “any day now."

Watch for sprinkler system leak signs

On the water demand side, Walkey stressed the continued importance of residential water conservation and that once Stage 3 rules are in place, it is time to “wrap up sprinklers and put them away” as their use is banned.

Commenting on residential property water leak situations that SCRD staff have encountered, he said many relate to underground sprinkler systems. He explained that while a resident may have turned off their above-ground sprayers, if their system remains connected to an active water supply, leaks in underground piping can still result in excess and prohibited water use. He said a telltale sign of an underground system leak (which could result in a $400 fine during Stage 3 restrictions) is a continued “green patch” of grass or plants in a sprinkler line area. 

As for discussions on the state of SCRD's water systems with businesses, including tourism representatives, Walkey said one update session had been held and a second was scheduled for Aug. 16.