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Trout Lake? Church Road work around? SCRD looks at emergency options for Chapman supply

The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) continues to juggle multiple initiatives to maintain flows in its Chapman water system that feeds the majority of its customers between West Howe Sound and Secret Cove.
N. Chapman October 7
Chapman Lake as seen Oct. 7. The soils around the lake are so dry that any initial rainfall would be absorbed into the ground, says SCRD director of infrastructure Remko Rosenboom.

The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) continues to juggle multiple initiatives to maintain flows in its Chapman water system that feeds the majority of its customers between West Howe Sound and Secret Cove. Those efforts are the focus of an Emergency Operations Centre put in place by the SCRD on Sept. 27 to address drought conditions that have kept that system on Stage four water restrictions since Aug. 31. 

Demands need to drop further

On the water demand side, an Oct. 12 SCRD update reported usage dipped below the 10,000 cubic meters per day level on both Oct. 7 and 8.  Director of infrastructure Remko Rosenboom told Coast Reporter the that use level continues to fluctuate and “the lower we can get it the better, because we are definitely not out of the woods yet.”

The update thanks community members for their water conservation efforts and states, “The SCRD is grateful to institutions in our community such as the Sechelt Hospital, which has taken measures such as sending laundry off-coast to reduce water use and School District 46 which has taken a number of water conservation measures in schools across the Coast.”

It goes on to stress that “targeted consumption continues to be 9.5 million litres per day, which will further help secure water supply into early November…Unfortunately, there are some members of our community who are blatantly ignoring water conservation regulations.”

According to the update, the SCRD has received multiple reports of water use violations including overnight watering and pressure washing and that staff are following up on those complaints. To date in 2022, 64 warnings and ten fines have been issued to people for not following water conservation regulations.

Supply challenges

On the supply side, Rosenboom said the system is currently being fed by a combination of siphons on Edwards and Chapman lakes, Town of Gibsons, the SCRD’s Chaster well and Grey Creek. Input from the Town of Gibsons has been increased to the approved level of 1,000 cubic meters per day, providing about 10 per cent of the supply. 

While rains would be welcomed and are being forecast for late next week, he said “if the rain was indeed to happen, it will not change anything with regard to lake levels because they are way too low… the soils around the lakes are so dry that any initial rain that does fall will likely be absorbed by the ground and will not add to lake levels.”

“[Rain] will impact our ability to use water from Grey Creek,” Rosenboom said, estimating that that source currently supplies between 15 and 17 percent of the flows into the Chapman system.  “We do not have adequate treatment there to treat any turbid water, so with a rain event, water from that source would become brownish due to sediment that will run down the creek, and that would require the SCRD to take that source offline.”

“We are doing everything we can at the moment to prepare for other sources to come online” he stated. He indicated short term supply side priorities are modifying the siphon systems at the lakes to draw more water. The potential addition of pumps is being explored. The SCRD also has requested the province lower the environmental flows needs (EFN) for water release from Chapman Lake into Chapman Creek. “The SCRD releases roughly 1.7 times more water for EFN than for human consumption. A reduction in this EFN would allow for more water to be available for community use and would further extend our water supply” according to the update.

The SCRD is in discussions with Vancouver Coastal Health on what it would take to get Trout Lake online, to provide water to Halfmoon Bay and Secret Cove. Access to that source may come with a boil water advisory because of the water quality from that source. 

Work is also being done with the Church Road well contractor on a possible interim connection “to be able to get up to half of the licenced volume from that source” Rosenboom stated. That would require use of a generator and installation of some alternative plumbing in the Church Road Water Treatment Plant. It is anticipated that an update on that project will be available next week.

SCRD water supply updates can be viewed on YouTube and its Facebook page, with updates to be posted in news releases at