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Rain puts out Stage 4 water restrictions for most of the Coast

And the Clowhom Lake wildfire is being held
As of Sept. 26, 2023, Chapman Lake is at 100 per cent storage capacity.

After three weeks, Stage 4 severe water restrictions have been officially lifted on the Sunshine Coast. Enough rain has replenished the system so that Chapman Water System is back on Stage 1 restrictions.

Between Sept. 23 and 26, the water storage level at Chapman Lake jumped from zero to 100 per cent. It inched to four per cent on Sept. 24 before rushing to 91 per cent on Sept. 25. The rain began on Sept. 23 with 12.5 millimetres at the lake and 5mm at the Water Treatment Plant. Sunday saw 21.1 mm at the lake (4mm at the treatment plant) before a downpour of 118mm on Monday (13.6mm at the plant) and another 40mm on Tuesday (6.6mm at the plant), communications manager Aidan Buckley shared. 

The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) initiated Stage 4 for Chapman Water System users — banning all outdoor water use — on Sept. 8 after months of dry conditions. It was the third consecutive year Stage 4 was enforced for the system, which provides treated water to 90 per cent of the lower Sunshine Coast’s population.

“Thankfully, this has been a shorter period at Stage 4 water conservation regulations than past years on the Chapman Water System,” SCRD chief administration officer Dean McKinley said in the press release. “I want to commend our staff for their forward thinking and innovation in the early Summer months which played a significant role in maintaining water supply in Chapman Lake.”

The end of Stage 4 became effective immediately on Sept. 27. Meanwhile, the South Pender Water System did not receive enough rain and is still on Stage 3 water restrictions. The Eastbourne Water System — on Keats Island — remains at Stage 4. The SCRD is asking residents to share the news with their neighbours.

An update from the SCRD earlier in the week said “operations staff monitor rainfall amounts and lake levels constantly to ensure the maximum amount of rain is held in the lakes. The recent rain event, in addition to what’s expected in the weather forecast, is all used to determine water conservation regulations.” It added that Gray Creek had to be taken offline as a water source because of the rain, and the system was being supplied by Church Road and Chapman Creek.

A water supply update will be presented to the SCRD board at their Sept. 28 meeting (after Coast Reporter’s print deadline).

Clowhom Lake fire

A State of Local Emergency (SOLE) that was declared on Sept. 15, and an evacuation order for seven properties near the Clowhom Lake wildfire, were called off on Sept. 23 following “favourable weather” and BC Wildfire crews’ progress. On Sept. 27, both the evacuation alert and Emergency Operations Centre were cancelled.

The fire was updated as “being held” — not likely to spread under current conditions — on Sept. 26. The fire was discovered on Aug. 29, and suspected to be caused by lightning. As of Tuesday morning, the fire was listed at 415.5 hectares by the BC Wildfire Service.

The Sept. 27 press release from the regional district said "B.C. Wildfire has advised that recent weather has allowed for progress to be made in fighting this fire." It cautioned anyone entering the area previously under an evacuation alert should be prepared for hazards related to fire.

“We are so appreciative of the work done by the hardworking crews of the B.C. Wildfire Service in helping keep our communities safe,” SCRD Board Chair Leonard Lee said in the release. “I would also like to commend our own staff, working in the EOC for the excellent coordination which allowed for those who could have been in harms way to safely evacuate the area.”