Rain relieves water demand but Stage 3 to continue

Unanticipated rain in July has reduced the demand for water, but Stage 3 water restrictions are still in effect for those on the Sunshine Coast Regional District’s Chapman water system.

“These rains were not predicted…the indication is that it was warmer and drier, and it wasn’t,” said Remko Rosenboom, infrastructure manager for the SCRD, in a verbal update to the board July 11.

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The current state of the water supply is comparable with that of early July 2018. Last year the SCRD declared Stage 4 at the end of August and the drought continued until late October.

“This year the intent is to avoid or delay as long as possible the implementation of a Stage 4 water conservation regulation, therefore we will remain at Stage 3 for now,” said Rosenboom, before thanking the community for its conservation efforts.

“It’s very significant the impacts, the difference between this year and last year in terms of the community demand during Stage 2 and Stage 3,” he said, adding that while lower temperatures and rain have helped reduce demand, changes to the drought management plan, specifically the tighter restrictions on lawn watering, were a primary driver.

Stage 3 began June 27, and data for the first week in July showed water use was 11 per cent above the Stage 3 target of 12 million litres per day.

Demand hovered between 14 and 15 million litres per day during dry days in the first two weeks of July, “which is as we were hoping that it would be,” said Rosenboom. Demand dropped further while it was raining.

“For now the demand is really where we would like it to be, so that’s very encouraging,” said Rosenboom, who cautioned demand could increase if temperatures also rise.

Water is flowing over the weir, said Rosenboom, when asked by West Howe Sound director Mark Hiltz. “The rain provided us in total of a week and a half where we did not have to release any water manually from the lake.”

Elphinstone Director Donna McMahon and chair Lori Pratt also thanked the community. “We all know how frustrated our community has been over the last number of years and they’ve done a lot of embracing and a lot of the regulations around lawn watering were not popular, I’ve read Facebook, it’s a huge kudos to the community for being on board with this,” said Pratt.

Director Hiltz said “as good good news at it is, I just want to remind people that last November was the latest that Chapman Lake had ever filled up, so we still have a long ways to go.”

Because of anticipated drought, the SCRD has been investigating whether Trout Lake and Grey Creek could be used as water supply options, and whether the environmental flow rate requirement for Chapman Creek could be changed.

When asked at the end of the meeting about the status of those projects, Rosenboom said discussions with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) continue for Trout Lake and Grey Creek, with further sampling being conducted at Grey Creek to support a request to bring it online. A decision about whether environmental flow rates can be changed is expected early next week.

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