The Sept. 24 Coast Reporter included a letter by Brian Carson, former director with the Sunshine Coast Community Forest. Mr. Carson pronounced “there is ample existing storage in Chapman Lake to meet present [water] needs.” This was followed up with a supporting letter from former president and chair, Geoff Craig. Mr. Carson and Mr. Craig are wrong.
Relying heavily on this one fragile watershed won’t magically solve our growing regional water needs. Especially in the face of escalating climate change. 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.
The natural ecosystems that produce our pristine water must be protected if we are to ensure long-term, sustainable water supply for Sunshine Coast residents. Indeed, that is one of the main reasons why the B.C. government protected Chapman and Edwards lakes within Tetrahedron Provincial Park in the 1990s. It’s also why the Minister of Environment rejected the SCRD’s 2019 request to remove lands from the park and blast a channel through the sensitive ecosystem to draw down Chapman Lake.
Efforts to safeguard our main water source areas were led by well-informed community members who have worked for decades alongside First Nations, local and provincial governments, and NGOs to protect drinking water on the Sunshine Coast.
Fortunately, the minister’s 2019 decision also came with a needed push. He was firm that the SCRD must “significantly reduce or eliminate the dependence on Chapman Lake as a source for additional water supply” and find “alternative solutions beyond the use of Chapman Lake that will improve the existing water supply system.”
Which it has done. Since 2019, the SCRD has done a great deal of work to conserve and diversify source areas. Metering is almost done. Fixing leaks, replacement of mains and upgrading of infrastructure to conserve what we already have is ongoing with good results. The work to bring prolific West Howe Sound aquifers online is well underway and after a few bumps, the Church Road well will be online in 2022.
Of course, more work will always need to be done by local government and the SCCA will continue to work with and press the SCRD to ensure sustainable management, development and protection of our drinking water sources.
Suzanne Senger, Executive Director, Sunshine Coast Conservation Association