Following June and July board meeting decisions, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) has awarded contracts to launch Phase 2 of its groundwater investigation study, as well as a raw water reservoir feasibility study.
Alberta-based engineering company Associated Environmental was awarded a $263,401 contract for the groundwater study while Integrated Sustainability, also based in Alberta, won the $142,966 contract for the reservoir study.
“Phase 2 of the groundwater investigation has been initiated. The reservoirs feasibility study will begin shortly,” SCRD chief administrative officer Janette Loveys told Coast Reporter in an email.
The raw water reservoir study will look at potential locations and provide analysis of their merits and disadvantages.
The groundwater study will consist of the drilling of test wells at four sites to determine water quality and yield, potential impacts on neighbouring systems, as well as what’s required in terms of infrastructure for connecting the wells to the SCRD’s system for long-term use. Sites are located at Mahan Road, Gray Creek, Soames/Granthams and Dusty Road.
Loveys said the SCRD “remains on track” with its water supply projects. Both projects are expected to be completed by early 2019.
Uncertainty remains with regards to water conservation efforts, however. On July 25, the SCRD announced that the Alternative Approval Process (AAP) required to secure authorization for a long-term loan bylaw to pay for universal water meter installations in the District of Sechelt failed. At the following board meeting, directors abandoned the bylaw but held off making an alternative funding decision. Options include taking out a short-term $6-million loan, paying for the project with a mix of short-term loan and reserves, or a referendum to decide whether to go ahead with the long-term loan, something the SCRD administration said is unlikely.
“At this point we are not anticipating a referendum either before or immediately following the general election, but we won’t know more until the Board considers the staff report on next steps in September,” said corporate officer Angie Legault.
According to B.C.’s local government referendum guidelines, a referendum must take place within 80 days of an AAP deadline, and so would have had to occur in advance of the Oct. 20 local government elections. Legault said: “Pursuing a referendum after the 80-day window would require a new loan authorization bylaw along with the approval of the Inspector of Municipalities.”
From July 30 to Aug. 5, residents used about 20.3 million litres of water a day, which is 35 per cent above the Stage 2 targets and 95 per cent more than the winter baseline, according to the SCRD’s weekly water use update.