Former SCRD planner Judy Skogstad’s most recent letter implies that the only thing stopping us from increasing water supply from Chapman Lake is misguided park proponents and cites AECOM’s 2016 Chapman Lake Water Expansion Project Environmental Assessment in support of an “alternate plan.”
The SCRD’s Comprehensive Regional Water Plan was finalized in 2013 but new source development was postponed in order to freeze water supply development cost charges (DCCs) until 2034. Instead of moving ahead with the CRWP’s aquifer assessments in 2015 as planned, SCRD staff proposed increasing drawdown on Chapman Lake from three to eight metres.
Until then, Stage 1 water use restrictions had been in effect since 1995, Stage 2 restrictions had been imposed twice (2009, 2012) and Stages 3 and 4 once (2012). AECOM assumed that, “drawdown below -3 m will only occur to avoid Stage 4 water use restrictions” and that, “the frequency is also low given the drought conditions required for stage 4 restrictions currently happen very infrequently.” This resulted in a now discredited finding that, “there is no residual effect anticipated due to the infrequent drawdown of the lake below the -3 m level.”
Unfortunately AECOM had no way of knowing in 2016 that in addition to 2012 and 2015, Stage 4 restrictions would be imposed in 2017, 2018 and 2021. Stage 4 conditions are not “infrequent” (1:15 years) or “gradually increasing” so the residual impacts of drawdown would not be “negligible or low” and in 2019 the SCRD’s “alternate plan” was rejected by the Minister of Environment.
Pitting one public good against another got us nowhere but one new well array will be supplying high quality water in 2022 and eliminate an estimated 45 per cent of the expected 2025 water deficit. Two additional groundwater well sites are also in the works.
Linda Williams, Sechelt