If the Arrowsmith Water Service is successful in its request to move the water intake 50 metres upstream on the Englishman River, Martindale Road resident Duane Round is concerned it could impact on the neighbourhood’s water supply.
Round brought that concern to Tuesday’s Regional District of Nanaimo committee of the whole meeting.
Speaking as a delegation, Round said the 65 homes in the Martindale area along the Englishman River mostly get their drinking water from groundwater wells, which he fears could face contamination.
“Most of us have our own wells that also receive water from the Englishman River aquifer as our only means to obtain water for our homes,” he said. “With the City of Parksville and Nanoose Bay getting most of the use of this water and their current well systems under duress, I am concerned that in the future they will want to take more of the water than is currently being taken, leaving less for the rest of us that also depend on the aquifer.”
Round said he was also concerned with the plan to store water from the winter runoff in an aquifer storage and recovery system — another potential risk to the neighbourhood’s water supply.
“This also poses a risk that the water supply will be contaminated or cause water to pour out of places on our properties where they have not before,” he said, calling the system an unproven technology.
Round also expressed concern that the Arrowsmith Water Service would, in order to ensure it has enough water, need to extract water from the river year-round.
“Nobody is sure how much water they will be taking in future and I’m worried there won’t be enough for us.”
He said the water in the Englishman River belongs to everybody, so changes to it should include consultation with adjacent landowners.
“We are a small community and we do not have the resources to build large infrastructure,” he said.
“We are at your mercy and I beseech you, as elected representative and human beings, to help ensure the safety of our water.”
In response, Parksville director Marc Lefebvre reassured Round that neighbours will be fully included in any future discussions.
“You can rest assured you will be fully included in any further developments,” he said. “This is a joint effort between the Regional District of Nanaimo and the City of Parksville and nobody is going to be left out. I can guarantee you of that.”
John Finney, the RDN’s general manager of regional and community utilities, waded into the discussion, stressing that water extraction limits are strictly adhered to by the district.
“There is a finite amount of water we can take from the river in a water licence,” Finney said. “The comment about extraction being unlimited and increasing is not correct.”
Finney said water is currently only taken during the summer months, as turbidity and sediment issues during the winter make it unusable.
“Once the treatment plant goes in, it will allow us to expand the period of extraction, but it’s not probably going to take place for some time in terms of extraction in the winter months. That is possible right now only from May to October.”
Round said he would be satisfied with Lefebvre’s assurance, if he put it in writing.