To ensure adequate water supply into October, Chapman Water System consumption must drop to 10,000 cubic metres per day.
That’s the Sunshine Coast Regional District’s (SCRD) message to users as it asks them to cut back, even further, on water use.
Every drop counts
The regional district is seeing usage at 11,500 and 12,000 cubic metres per day, general manager of infrastructure services Remko Rosenboom told Coast Reporter in an Sept. 13 interview. During last year’s prolonged state of Stage 4 restrictions, the system was hovering at the 10,000 cubic metre mark, he said. “We know that the community can get there again and are asking them to make every effort to do that.”
Outdoor use is the primary reason the system is seeing the higher usage, said Rosenboom. “If you have an irrigation system that is on a timer, shut it off and if you don’t live on the Coast call your neighbour and have them shut it off.”
While Stage 4 regulations include a ban on outdoor watering, the SCRD is also asking the community to conserve water inside their homes. Recommendations included in a Sept. 14 press release are cutting shower times in half, only running dishwashers and washing machines on full loads and limiting the number of times toilets are flushed each day.
“We understand the sacrifices that are made through stage 4 water conservation regulations and are very appreciative of the community’s efforts to date. With no significant rainfall and warmer than normal weather in the forecast, the next two to three weeks are critical for us as we work to secure water supply for community use and fire protection until mid-October.”
The SCRD says it will continue to communicate about the community’s water use through social media and will provide weekly updates via news release at www.scrd.ca.
Immediate $500 fine for violations
This year, the Chapman system was moved on to Stage 2 water conservation measures on July 28. It went to Stage 3 on Aug. 23 and to Stage 4 on Aug. 31. The SCRD reported it has issued 47 warnings and one fine for non-compliance with water restrictions this summer.
“In Stage 4,” Roosenboom said, “our tolerance for noncompliance is lower than in other stages.”
In keeping with that, the release states that enforcement action is being stepped up to an immediate $500 fine for anyone found to be in violation of Stage 4 water regulations.
The SCRD is also poised to send out 460 leak notification letters to residences that have been identified through water meter data analysis or through reports from the public of suspected leaks. If notified owners take insufficient action to address a leak, a shut-off notice can be issued. This year, four shut off notifications have been sent to residences that had large unresolved leaks and all resulted in prompt fixes.
Lower water in Chapman than in last five years
The dry and warm weather in July, August and early September resulted in Chapman Lake having “a lower water elevation than in the last five years,” according to Rosenboom. He explained that the Chapman watershed needs about 100 millimetres of rain in a short period of time to sufficiently recharge and allow a move back to less severe water conservation regulations. Since Aug. 1, only 33 millimetres of rain has fallen at Chapman Lake and that has not been sufficient to affect water levels at Chapman or Edwards Lake.
When asked why there were only nine days between Stage 3 and Stage 4 restrictions, Rosenboom commented that, “Stage 3 was called three weeks after Stage 2, which was in line with previous years. At that time, we noticed that the [Chapman] lake level drop was a little bit higher than usual but it was not alarming. After the change to Stage 3, we noticed the drop was continuing at the same rate and with the dry weather in the forecast we felt it was appropriate to call Stage 4 sooner than later because we knew that we might be in trouble if the demand continued.
“It was the weather in August that put us to that decision and it was the right decision.”
Siphons were deployed in Chapman Lake when Stage 4 measures came into force. Since Stage 3 regulations were put in place, Edwards Lake has been supplementing flows released from Chapman Lake via a valve on the SCRD’s Edwards Lake dam.
As for the potential to add a siphon system to access more water from Edwards, Rosenboom said “we are only going there if we really need it.”
“BC Parks is aware we don’t have any additional water supply sources online yet. We are having the conversations with them and the Ministry of Forests because we also need a use approval under the Water Sustainability Act and from the shíshálh nation to get the permits needed to install a new siphon.
“The ministry will not issue a permit until the situation is dire because it would be an extreme measure for them to approve a second siphon system at the lakes. It will cost us over $100,000 to install it and then we may have to remove it next year. We are preparing for that, but if we can avoid it, that would be beneficial.”
Increased supplies in 2023?
The SCRD is working on two major projects to increase supply in the Chapman water system. The Church Road well field, projected to be online in the first quarter of 2023 is slated to add up to 5 million litres of water per day.
It is also developing a well field at next to the Langdale ferry terminal. Initial projections on the yield from this well are positive and more precise production estimates will be confirmed through the testing of the drilled well later this month. A water licence application is anticipated to be filed later this year and SCRD staff estimate this well could be online within three years.
An application has been submitted to draw more water from Chapman Creek during the early spring months, when impacts on fish stocks would be lower. Rosenboom indicated he would be very pleased, given the backlog of applications being experienced by the province, if approvals were received in time for this to be done in 2023.