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Sunshine Coast commercial water ban lifting, state of emergency extended

The order banning certain commercial and industrial uses of the Chapman Water System water is set to end Nov. 1 at 11:59 p.m., but 'with caution.'
Edwards Lake as seen Oct. 28.

The Sunshine Coast’s state of local emergency will remain in place into its third week, but the sole order issued under it will end Nov. 1 at 11:59 p.m.

The state of emergency, which was declared Oct. 17 and had been set to expire Oct. 31, was extended another week “due to the uncertainty of our water supply in the coming weeks,” said an Oct. 31 Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) press release.

Order lifted

The order that banned certain commercial and industrial uses of Chapman water is being lifted in the SCRD, District of Sechelt and shíshálh Nation “with caution,” said the release, so as “to allow businesses that were impacted by the Order to resume their activities.”

The ban affected businesses that use large volumes of water, including alcohol producers, producers of non-medical cannabis, those working with concrete, cement, asphalt, gravel, or aggregate and those packaging water for sale to others.

Stage 4 restrictions remain in place in the Chapman Water System.

SCRD staff are closely monitoring the Chapman watershed and water supply, said the release.

“Our main reservoirs are rain dependent,” Emergency operations centre director  Remko Rosenboom said in the release. He added that the higher elevations have “almost skipped fall weather” and gone quickly from summer drought to winter freezing conditions. This affects Chapman and Edwards Lakes and Chapman Creek, which depend on fall rain for refill and recharge.

Freezing risk

More rain is in the forecast this week but freezing temperatures pose a risk to the siphons and water supply. “More rain in the entire Chapman watershed is still needed before the soils in the watershed are saturated enough to guarantee long term water supply,” said the release.

Recent rain has increased Chapman Creek flow, but should not enough rain fall, or should the creek’s flow be affected by freezing, the SCRD will consider increasing restrictions, said the release.  

While environmental flow needs for Chapman Creek had been reduced to 160 litres a second from 200 litres a second, the flow has been returned to 200 litres a second as salmon have started migrating up the creek.

Temporary early access to the Church Road field’s Soames well is set to start providing about 15 per cent of the Chapman supply late next week, said the release.

Chapman water use is staying around 8.5 million litres a day – even dipping to the 7.5 million litre vicinity in the past week.

– With files from Connie Jordison