Who, Us….Drink Too Much?

May by

How can the Sunshine Coast’s Regional Board directors, many of whom, have served multiple terms, sanction a report based on water usage figures that are so utterly and blatantly misleading?

Most of our resident population of under thirty-thousand lives within a mile of our occupied and convoluted shoreline. At least thirty miles of it, as the crow flies, far longer when you factor in its bays and inlets, relies in whole or in part on water from Chapman and Gray Lakes, Chapman being the far more substantial source. Ten thousand connections.

According to engineering firm Dayton and Knight our high-season per-capita water consumption is extraordinarily high, about the same as Ladner, where agricultural use is a major factor.

That seems bizarre on the face of it, and before putting such a statistic out, you would think someone on the SCRD Board would point out that there are a hell of a lot more ‘capitas’ taking water out of the system in the middle of summer than in the winter. That’s because all the non-resident property owners become resident. And they are not counted in the census figures upon which D&Ks per capita consumption figures are based.

Did nobody on the SCRD Board point this out? Did not one of them suggest that provincial property tax rolls might give us at least a rough idea of the percentage of local property owners who are not full-time residents, who receive their tax bills elsewhere…..Alberta, Vancouver? Do they not get out on the streets in the summer?

Let me offer up a conservative guess: Twenty percent. Which is about what the SCRD’s new and improved conservation program projects in savings over the next few years.

Factor in the semi-rural nature of much of the area served by Chapman/Gray and the amount of gardening that takes place here, that institutional water use is undoubtedly higher here because of the stretched out population (two pools, for instance, two rinks e.g. where one might serve a more compacted population), an unusual per-capita length of pipeline to serve those 10,000 connections, with junctions that leak simply because of expansion and contraction.

We don’t have figures we could have, at least in the form of estimates. From the inadequacy of those we have been provided we might intuit that our actual per-capita consumption is far more in line with a population that overall has a pretty high level of conscience where water use and environment in general is concerned.

The threat of water-shortage is not new. It was there in 1999 when I was first elected to the Regional Board as the director from Area B/Halfmoon Bay. We rejected the idea of a floating pump, now being suggested again by D&K, as a temporary measure with a possibly permanent environmental downside.

Then we focused on meeting provincial water quality concerns with a new treatment plant and kind of got watered out. There was Shirley Macey Park to develop, a perversely complicated and expensive but finally successful recreational facilities process, major rezoning issues in Pender Harbor….etc. And there went two terms.

Since then there have been two more with incumbent directors knowing very well that supply was a critical issue. And now, a third term down the road, five in total, we are just beginning to look at it again, and at a temporary, once rejected, probably controversial fix.

At least now they get it that our best bet is a man-made reservoir downstream from Chapman Lake. There is a potential site currently being quarried by Lehigh, formerly Construction Aggregates Ltd..

According to D&Ks public presentation they haven’t approached the Province as to what it might require of us. No…. they haven’t approached Lehigh either. No they don’t know how many people actually use the water.

Hey, the conservation measures are fine….intrinsically worthwhile. My garden gets for the most part hand watered. You can find lots of pictures of it on this site. As you can see, the lawn I leave to tough it out. It still seems to overcome the winter moss and give me several months of green each year, fed only by its own clippings.

Homestead overview

Folks on the Sunshine Coast are big on gardens. Our veggies, flowers, shrubs and trees feed the birds and the bees, the bodies and souls 0f ourselves, our friends and neighbors, our food bank.

Our local governments need to get their act together to insure that we can continue to optimally do so.

It’s not a choice. It’s an obligation.


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