With all the rain we’ve been getting, it’s hard to believe that just a month ago, on Sept. 20, the Sunshine Coast Regional District ended the longest outdoor watering ban in the region’s history – 41 days.
This sudden shift from extended drought to daily downpours has been a semi-regular pattern in recent years and perhaps explains why Coasters have a habit of sleepwalking between summer water shortages then waking up furious when Stage 4 is declared, demanding the SCRD do whatever it takes to fix the problem.
The fix currently in the works involves tapping into groundwater sources, with big hopes that the Church Road well field project will make a significant dent in the water supply deficit.
But not everyone is sold on the adequacy of the SCRD’s current plan, and seemingly out of nowhere, an old debate on how best to tackle the problem has resurfaced.
The shot over the bow was fired in a Letter to the Editor that appeared on Sept. 24, written by Brian Carson, a geoscientist who has worked in watershed management for more than 40 years, both locally and internationally, and has resided in Roberts Creek for the last 30 years.
Carson argues that the decision by the province in early 2019 to reject the SCRD’s proposal to expand the use of Chapman Lake was purely political and based on false assumptions. He cites environmental impact assessments and the 1997 management plan for Tetrahedron Park to make his points. In a follow-up letter that appears on page 10 this week, he concludes: “All available unbiased information points to making better use of Chapman Lake to meet our present water needs.”
Other letter writers, some with considerable institutional memory, have backed Carson’s position.
Opponents have also weighed in, dismissing the idea as backward-thinking.
Suzanne Senger, responding as executive director of the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association, wrote in an Oct. 8 letter: “Putting all our eggs in one basket by increasing drawdown on the overtaxed Chapman system would be irresponsible and a risky waste of taxpayers’ money.”
Both Senger and SCCA director Daniel Bouman, whose letter appeared the following week, expressed support for the SCRD’s current direction.
This is an important debate and it deserves to move out of the newspaper and into the public arena. Considering what’s at stake, Coasters can’t afford to sleepwalk through another rainy season.