Sandpiper residents celebrate end of reddish-brown water in community

Electoral Area G (Englishman River, San Pareil, French Creek, Little Qualicum, Dashwood) director Lehann Wallace draws clean water from the new water metering system located near the Sandpiper water reservoir. (Michael Briones photo)Electoral Area G (Englishman River, San Pareil, French Creek, Little Qualicum, Dashwood) director Lehann Wallace draws clean water from the new water metering system located near the Sandpiper water reservoir. (Michael Briones photo)
Sandpiper resident Rob Ward, left, Area G director Lehann Wallace, Gillian Ward and Qualicum Beach Mayor Brian Wiese demonstrate how clean and safe the water is now for drinking. (Michael Briones photo)Sandpiper resident Rob Ward, left, Area G director Lehann Wallace, Gillian Ward and Qualicum Beach Mayor Brian Wiese demonstrate how clean and safe the water is now for drinking. (Michael Briones photo)
The Sandpiper community toasts the completed water supply project. (Michael Briones photo)The Sandpiper community toasts the completed water supply project. (Michael Briones photo)

Since 1980, residents in the Sandpiper community of French Creek have endured reddish brown water coming out of their taps.

The poor water quality situation in the area has finally come to an end with the completion of a water supply distribution system, sourced from the Town of Qualicum Beach aquifers.

On Friday, May 27, the Regional District of Nanaimo and Town of Qualicum Beach celebrated the permanent water link that will provide clean and safe water to close to 250 households in the area. It was attended by residents who applauded the milestone.

Electoral Area G (Englishman River, San Pareil, French Creek, Little Qualicum, Dashwood) director Lehann Wallace and Qualicum Beach Mayor Brian Wiese announced the completion of the water supply project and confidently showed the high quality of the water that was drawn from the water metering system, located on the boundary of Sandpiper and Qualicum Beach.

“Today marks the end of a very, very long and difficult journey for the residents of Sandpiper,” said Wallace, who made the project a priority. “Today officially marks the beginning of a new era where Sandpiper residents have clean safe drinking water that perhaps the rest of us have taken for granted in other areas where it has not been an issue.”

READ MORE: Petition underway to get RDN to improve Sandpiper water quality

The whole project, Wallace, explained is a successful collaboration between the RDN and the town. She thanked Wiese for being patient with her persistence that led to an agreement being signed in 2021, for Qualicum Beach to provide bulk water to the RDN’s Sandpiper reservoir. Since then, a temporary water link was established that delivered clean water to residents, who can now celebrate a permanent connection.

“The residents of Qualicum Beach have funded and built an excellent water system and I am proud of this example of regional co-operation to find an equitable solution to the Sandpiper water problem,” said Wiese, who gave most of the credit to town staff and council for their support and hard work.

The RDN allocated $970,000 from the Electoral Area G Community Works Fund to pay for the capital costs which will also fund future water supply improvements for the Chartwell and Eaglecrest communities in Qualicum Beach and Sandpiper as well.

Wallace also expressed gratitude to the RDN board for supporting the project, and to Ron and Gillian Ward for stepping up on behalf of the Sandpiper residents.

“They (the Wards) figured it out how to represent the issue of the water quality and how it was affecting people’s lives and bring that message effectively to the RDN board of directors, which is the support that I needed to represent those issues at the board table,” said Wallace.

The water metering system will regulate and measure the flow of the water into the reservoir to ensure that the residents will get the bulk of the water to meet the community’s daily demand. It will result in higher water bills for Sandpiper resident but it will eliminate longstanding water quality concerns associated with groundwater wells that had been supplying the area since 1980.

Wallace said what they’ve established is a “home run for everyone.” She mentioned a number of favourable comments she has received from residents with one indicating “the water in my toilet is clear and it’s almost a shame to use it.”

Qualicum Beach town engineer Bob Weir, who played a key role in the project, indicated the water that is now being distributed to Sandpiper homes does not need filtration due to the high-quality of the water coming from the source.

“It’s groundwater and it’s clean as it can be,” said Weir. “We had our reservoirs looked at by divers to see if we need to clean anything else in the water. There’s absolutely nothing there.”

With the completion of the permanent water connection, landscape remediation at the Sandpiper reservoir site will begin in the coming weeks.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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