For a second consecutive year, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) has activated an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to respond to drought conditions in the region.
The EOC is to “ensure additional emergency planning can occur to secure water supply for the Chapman Water System," the SCRD stated in a release dated Sept. 27.
“We are at a point where we need to put additional emergency planning in place for water users on the Chapman System. The last day of significant rainfall on the Sunshine Coast was over 80 days ago and Environment Canada has informed us not to expect any significant rainfall for at least the next two weeks,” SCRD chief administrative officer Dean McKinley stated in the release.
A repeat of 2021
Also on Sept. 27, the Town of Gibsons advised the SCRD that they can provide up to 1,000 cubic meters of water per day to supplement the Chapman Water System. A similar agreement was put in place during 2021.
An EOC was established on Aug. 23, 2021 and remained in operation into mid-September to help address that year’s drought. EOCs provide communities with a model to build capacity for site-level support and consequence management in response to large or complex incidents, through the prioritization of activities and the allocation of available resources.
Awaiting approval for Edwards Lake siphon
The release details that during the first week of October, subject to approval from BC Parks, Ministry of Forests and the shíshálh Nation, the SCRD has planned to install new siphons at Edwards Lake. This will allow for more water to be drawn from Edwards, also located in the Chapman watershed within Tetrahedron Provincial Park. That lake is the SCRD’s secondary reservoir after Chapman Lake.
Chapman Lake is at historic low levels. A siphon system has been operating at the lake since Aug. 31 when the SCRD put in place Stage 4 water conservation regulations for the Chapman system, which supplies potable water to approximately 10,000 properties from West Howe Sound north to Secret Cove. These siphons operate near the centre of the lake and pull additional water over the dam and into Chapman Creek.
“On the water conservation front, users on the Chapman System are close to hitting our targeted amount of 10 million litres used per day,” Mia Edbrooke, Acting General Manager of Infrastructure Services stated in the release.
“Unfortunately, we are still receiving reports and hearing of members of our community watering lawns and using pressure washers. We are in a critical time right now and we need everybody to work together to secure our water supply into late October.”
Other SCRD water conservation measures taken to address water use issues include increased enforcement of watering restrictions with $500 fines for anyone found to be using SCRD drinking water for outdoor use. Letters have been sent to high water users, who have been identified as using an above-average amount of water per day, that advise them to reduce their consumption. In addition, water shut-off notices were sent to residents who have leaks and have received prior notice from the SCRD asking them to fix their leaks.
As of Sept. 27 users of other SCRD water systems on the Coast remain under different water restriction levels with the Eastbourne system on Keats Island also at Stage 4. Gibsons is following Stage 3, south Pender Harbour is on Stage 2 and water users on the Egmont, Earls Cove, North Pender Harbour, Langdale, Soames Point, and Granthams Landing are at Stage 1.