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The rain is helping: Chapman Creek meets water use demands

Plans in place to monitor the effect of freezing temperatures on available water supply to ensure that other sources can be brought online should they be necessary
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Chapman Lake channel on Nov. 17.

Rain is leading to recovery for Chapman Creek water flows.  As of Nov. 23, those flows were the sole source for water going into the Sunshine Coast Regional District’s (SCRD) Chapman water system, a news release from that local government stated.

Usage down but restrictions remain

That document also noted that demands for water from the system dropped to just over 7 million litres per day on Nov. 21. That level, below the SCRD target of 8.5 million litres per day, appears to reflect concerted efforts on the part of users to conserve water while the system remains under Stage 4 (severe) water restrictions. 

“We know that there are lots of questions, particularly as we see more rain events about why the Chapman system remains on Stage 4 water conservation regulations,” stated SCRD Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) director Remko Rosenboom, in the release.

He went on to explain that there is uncertainty around how the watershed will react and recover to what has been drier than normal weather conditions. “We do not know how the land around Chapman Creek will act in the coming couple of weeks as we first see increased rain and subsequently freezing temperatures return to the lower Chapman Creek watershed. Until we have data that shows that more water is making its way into the lakes and creek to support our longer-term water supply, we must stay on our current water conservation regulations.”

On Nov. 18, the SCRD lifted the State of Local Emergency related to ongoing drought conditions in the Chapman watershed. It opted to keep its EOC, established to manage efforts related to that drought, operational.

In its most recent statement to the press, the SCRD said that staff at the EOC have plans in place to monitor the effect of freezing temperatures on available water supply to ensure that other sources can be brought online should they be necessary.

Other supply options

Those additional sources include interim access to water from the Church Road well field and agreement to reactivate emergency water supply from the Town of Gibsons. Town CAO Emanuel Machado told Coast Reporter that community is ready to re-establish providing supply into the Chapman system.  As of Nov. 17, he said that Gibsons had supplied water to support the testing and onboarding of supplies from the new well field.

Supplies from Gray Creek and Trout Lake are also being considered, but only if required. The SCRD has stated that is due to the fact that both would require boil water advisories for users supplied from those sources, as neither has onsite facilities to treat the raw water taken from those locations.

Leak detection a priority

Water system leak detection and repair remained a high priority for the SCRD over the past week. The release noted that that included five water shut off notices issued to owners of properties, which were leaking a total of over 40,000 litres of water per day, and that staff continue to work with those owners to resolve those water-wasting situations. 

Chapman water used for SC Arena ice

Work continues to ensure the Sunshine Coast Arena is “face-off” ready for the first tournament of the 2022/23 season for the area’s minor hockey association. The season opening of the arena's ice surface and the “Winter Classic” tourney for young female hockey players are both set for Nov. 25.

Between Nov. 16 and 23, water from the Chapman system water has been used to ready the ice rink. 

The Sunshine Coast Minor Hockey Association has proposed a variety of alternate water source solutions to the SCRD so that ice could be maintained with reduced impacts on the area’s drinking water supply. Due to safety and logistical concerns, the SCRD has opted to keep ice production on the existing approved water source.

Changing to an alternate source at that site “is quite a considerable undertaking, particularly the storage on-site and developing the systems required to take the water from the storage area to the ice plant,” SCRD communications manager Aidan Buckley wrote in a Nov 22 email.

In addition, SCRD staff are in communication with Technical Safety BC to ensure that any alternate water source used at that site meets required safety standards.

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