So, we yet again dodged the bullet. September rains saved the SCRD from running out of water. It needn’t be like this. There is ample existing storage in Chapman Lake to meet present needs, just waiting to be harnessed. We are told that because the lake is in a park, it cannot be used any more intensely. We are told that we will have serious environmental destruction and irreversible damage to our drinking water if we draw down the lake any further. These allegations are not supported by the SCRD’s environmental impact assessments nor the 1997 management plan for Tetrahedron Park. Politicians ought not to listen to small but vocal groups of persistent but misguided lobbyists.
There is no shortage of pristine subalpine lakes to meet the diverse ecological needs of our region. Chapman Lake is not pristine, as a dam was constructed in 1978 which needs to be maintained. Proposed construction activities were to be confined to areas originally disturbed in 1978. Any potential turbidity events caused by increased drawdown on the lake would be periodic and temporary. Such events can certainly be handled by our state-of-the-art water treatment facilities. Fish are under no threat by any further developments at the lake. In fact, fish too suffer from lack of water and would benefit by stabilized summer discharge.
A highlight of the 1997 management plan was the recognition that the Chapman and Gray Creek watersheds are the only potential regionally scaled water supply sources. The SCRD gave up its historic water licences to enable the park to be established. Consequently, the plan acknowledges that BC Parks will consider options to enable it to authorize the SCRD to manage for future population needs. Minister George Heyman’s 2019 decision regarding the Chapman expansion needs to be reconsidered.
Conversely, SCRD’s proposed “options” to capture more water are wanting. Collectively they are insufficient and involve a considerable degree of uncertainty. They threaten existing groundwater resources, are prohibitively expensive and/or require long time periods to develop the new infrastructure required to service them.
To this quagmire of already bad decision making, the SCRD professes to support agriculture, but can offer farmers no water, professes to favour household food self-sufficiency but bans outdoor watering, and unfathomably supports ongoing residential development, despite the severe water scarcity that already exists.
Next year the bullet may not be deflected. Historic, bad decisions by any government can and should be reversed. In lieu of no viable alternatives, we must proceed to develop existing storage on Chapman Lake.
Brian Carson, Roberts Creek