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SCRD issues a water update: watershed 'a very dry sponge'

Sunshine Coast residents urged — again — to cut back on water use
Chapman Lake, as seen on Oct. 14, 2022.

As the drought stretches on, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) is considering calling a State of Local Emergency (SOLE). 

If a SOLE is declared, it would affect high, non-essential commercial water users, SCRD facilities and more. 

The Chapman watershed requires 150 millimetres of rainfall to be recharged and to scale back water restrictions, but only minimal rain is predicted for early next week. 

Complicating the matter is that Grey Creek, which provides about 17 per cent of the Chapman water supply, may not be usable if there is rain, because other material could mix into the creek. While siphons are operating at both Chapman and Edwards lakes, the SCRD is concerned how freezing temperatures on-site could affect their use. The SCRD has never operated the siphons so late in the year. 

On Oct. 14, the SCRD’s latest water update asked Coasters to “consider our watershed to be a very dry sponge. It needs to be soaked before we can pull water out of it. Until the ground is soaked water will run off and will not effectively recharge our lakes.”

In the past week, daily water use on the Chapman system has only been below the 9.5 million litre goal three times, on Oct. 7, 8 and 13.

“Small changes such as halving shower times and running washes on full loads has the potential to make a big difference, if we all take these actions together,” the press release states.

More emergency sources

In the meantime, the Emergency Operations Centre is continuing to prioritize securing water through the month of November. 

The SCRD is waiting for permission to reposition the siphon system at Edwards Lake in order to allow more water to be drawn from that source. The regional district has also requested the federal and provincial governments allow lowering the Environmental Flow Needs (EFN), which helps to support fish and the ecosystem in Chapman Creek. The SCRD currently releases about 1.7 times the water used for human consumption for EFN.

Trout Lake is ready to be brought online. When needed, that water would serve residences in the Halfmoon Bay area and need to be boiled prior to use.

Although the Church Road wellfield is not yet online, “SCRD staff are confident that a limited amount of water can be drawn from the well field with the use of temporary plumbing in the water treatment plant. Work on this temporary supply has begun and will take a couple of weeks to complete,” the release said.