Groundwater program to continue in Parksville

Real Estate Foundation jumps on board push to identify local groundwater sources

Members of the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society and the Real Estate Foundation of B.C. gather on the shore of the Englishman River in Parksville.

There’s still more groundwater running into the Englishman River to be analyzed, and with the support of the Real Estate Foundation of B.C., and many others, the local organization doing the work will be able to continue.

Having most recently completed a review of groundwater in sand and gravel environments feeding into the Englishman River watershed, the Mid-Vancouver Island  Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES) is about to look at groundwater flowing through bedrock.

That’s not as impossible as it sounds for, as hydrogeologist Dr. Gilles Wendling points out, at higher elevations, water gets into cracks and faults in bedrock and flows down into the watershed over time. The extent of which this occurs, from where the water originates and how much of it actually gets into the downstream water supply, will be MVIHES’s next stage of their ongoing groundwater mapping and education project.

Wendling, a specialist in groundwater supply and protection, works for MVIHES setting out what to measure, how to measure it and what to do with the results.

He said two-thirds of the water in the river watershed runs through bedrock at some point. The next step of the study will be to determine how big the network of crack and faults are, which provide a route for water from the upper elevations, down to the estuary area.

“The problem is, in the protection of groundwater, is death by a thousand cuts,” he said. “Drying up a wetland, filling up ditches — this can effect the whole water system.”

What MVIHES is trying to do, according to spokesperson Faye Smith, is to raise awareness of people’s impact on local water sources and to educate them on ways to mitigate the effect of water use and development that tends to displace water. Smith said they have been successful in working with local municipal governments, business, the Real Estate Foundation of B.C., Regional Distirct of Nanaimo and RBC Blue Water Project, in spreading the word.

Jack Wong, president of the Real Estate Foundation of B.C., says they are involved as protecting fresh drinking water is in their best interests.

“It’s a focus of the Foundation,” he said, “ and we are aware of the impact development has on a watershed.”

Water, Wong continued, is a basic necessity and the Foundation takes a fundamental stance on protecting it as best they can — and encouraging their members to do the same.

“It amazes me how supportive the Foundation has been,” added Smith, saying if the development community is open to ensuring watersheds are protected, that will help the local ecosystem survive.

Smith said the MVIHES has been working on watershed protection and awareness for the last two years and feels their efforts have been successful. Their work, however, is not yet complete as they must strive continually to keep water protection in the public eye.

To learn more, and to read the results of MVIHES’s years of watershed study on the Englishman River, visit


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