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Water supply guaranteed to mid-October

SCRD serves 15 users with shut-off notices
N.Water supply
Chapman Lake, as seen on Sept. 8.

The Sunshine Coast Regional District’s (SCRD) water supply is now predicted to be guaranteed until Oct. 15 as water use declines, staff told the board in the latest water update.

At the Sept. 9 infrastructure meeting, general manager of infrastructure services Remko Rosenboom said the supply for the Chapman system has been extended by another two weeks as long as water use levels remain the same and Stage 4 restrictions continue. Forecasted rain could extend the timeline further, he said.

“I want to thank our community for stepping up and conserving water, your efforts have made a real difference and we are in a far better situation now than we were just two weeks ago,” Rosenboom said in a press release. “Despite this, we will be in Stage 4 water conservation regulations into the coming weeks as our staff continue to prepare for emergency measures should they be necessary.”

The current goal for daily water use is 10.5 million litres per day. On Sunday, Sept. 5, daily water use was 10 million litres, followed by 10.1 million on Monday and 10.4 million on Tuesday.

Between Sept. 2 and the Sept. 9 meeting, about nine millimeters of rain had fallen at the Sechelt airport, but the rain gauge at Chapman Lake was malfunctioning and could not provide an accurate reading.

The weather forecast predicts more rainfall in the coming weeks, and Rosenboom said while any rain would be beneficial, the system would still need multiple-day rain events to fill Chapman Lake back up to where the valve can be used again. Only then would the SCRD be able to return to Stage 3 restrictions. Stage 4 will be in effect as long as the siphons are active.

Stage 4 restrictions came into effect on Aug. 10, the earliest it had ever been called. This is the longest Stage 4 restrictions have been in place. In 2018, Stage 4 lasted for 14 days. It lasted for 25 days in 2017, and 22 days in 2015.

The update comes more than a week after the Town of Gibsons began supplementing the SCRD’s water supply on Sept. 1 with up to 1,000 cubic metres per day. On Aug. 23, the SCRD activated an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to respond to the drought.

The option of putting siphons in at Edwards Lake is still on the table, although the target commissioning date has been delayed to Oct. 15. Commitments for certain materials have already been made, Rosenboom said.

No other additional measures are being considered, and a state of emergency is not anticipated, Rosenboom said.

Top users and leaks

The board was also presented with information about the top 30 water users in August, most of which had leaks on the property. Rosenboom said the consumption would go down significantly if the leaks were fixed.

On Aug. 27, the SCRD issued 15 shut-off notices with Sept. 10 as the deadline to fix the identified leaks. In September, 456 leak notification letters were sent. Rosenboom noted that some residential users are not single-dwelling properties, and that could account for the high use.

SCRD staff have issued eight fines so far this year: six for sprinkling and two for pressure washing. Four of those fines were issued to Chapman users during Stage 4.

Comparatively, no fines were issued in 2020, two were issued in 2019 and only one was issued in 2018. Eighty-four warnings have been given this year.

Letters were also sent to 413 high water users, and subscriptions to the monthly water use update have been increasing as a result.

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