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Letters: shíshálh Nation reservoir proposals won’t solve everything



The article in the Sept.15 Coast Reporter about the two reservoirs proposed by the shíshálh Nation on the Heidelberg Materials gravel mine site gave me pause for two reasons. The first concern is environmental. The area where the reservoirs are to be sited, as well as the ground upslope from the sites, was used for Class B wastewater biosolids disposal for two decades up to 2017. These biosolids were shipped in from Metro Vancouver and Sunshine Coast municipalities and used for mine site reclamation and reforestation fertilization. My understanding is that Class B biosolids cannot be applied to a watershed used as a catchment for potable water because Class B biosolids can contain pathogens, heavy metals, microplastics and pharmaceuticals, as well as “forever contaminants” such as polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Has any testing been carried out to determine the remaining hazards? Has there been any remediation effort? Do we want a reservoir down slope from a biosolids disposal area? 

My second concern is the size of the reservoirs. The two together are wholly inadequate to meet the needs outlined in the SCRD’s water supply deficit study, updated earlier this year. We will need storage for 4.3 million cubic metres of water by 2035. The proposed mine site reservoirs, at 2.8 million cubic metres in total, will be inadequate to meet that need even before they are completed. 

Water remains a significant concern on the Sunshine Coast – the community in the rainforest that runs out of water every year. We are receiving third world municipal services at first world prices. After decades of neglect of our water infrastructure, something needs to change. 

It seems prudent that the SCRD has kept the site B water reservoir, and other options, open. 

Keith Maxwell, West Sechelt