Stage 1 restrictions for SCRD water systems are a month away and staff have committed to provide updates on plans for water supplies for 2023 in the coming weeks.
Debate about plans for water supplies followed mayor/director John Henderson’s call to directors for more work on the Dusty Road well during a March 23 meeting. While views on that specific proposal vary, it is a director’s duty to raise constituents’ concerns and to seek board actions to address those. With last year’s Coast “water emergency” and delays with completion of planned supply enhancement projects, uncertainties over water are top of mind for many. Those were highlighted in the 2022 local election campaign, have been the subject of many letters to the editor, plus are raised in a multitude of other public discussions.
The board has voted against revisiting the Dusty Road well based on assessments of professional advice provided to date. If that project is a non-starter, it’s time to move on to the paperwork about the Langdale well, licensing the Church Road project, metering and adjustments for Chapman system infrastructure, other supply options and conservation measures. Directors and the public need to know what the options for improved or at least stabilized water access are. Then the board needs to make timely decisions and give direction for expedited implementation.
Over recent months, local elected officials have held “water summits” behind closed doors. Information summaries from those are also something staff are to be providing. Confidential discussions on jurisdictional and legal issues are legitimate but before any plan of action is taken, decisions from such sessions need to be disclosed with an opportunity for public questions.
During this year’s SCRD budget debate we heard that staff’s work plans and inboxes are overflowing. Their ability to address those is part of why they have the jobs and salaries that they do. With a newly elected board, it was understandable but unfortunate that budget discussions demanded staff’s attention into late March. Could reports on water have come forward earlier? We’ll never know.
But now, it’s ‘crunch time’ with summer mere months away. Our recently-minted board needs information to formulate a plan for water that keeps the Coast safe and the taps of its clientele supplied in 2023 and beyond. And the community needs to know what that plan is, along with how it is anticipated to work and impact us.