There has been extensive coverage regarding the Arrowsmith Water Service over the past month, an initiative that until now was not on many people’s radar screen.
However, I can’t think of an issue more important to the future of Oceanside than a comprehensive and inclusive water strategy for the Englishman river watershed!
I live in San Pareil/Shorewood, a community of approximately 340 residences located between Rathtrevor Park and the Englishman River. Our community is part of the RDN, but not part of the RDN AWS allocation.
My concern is if and how the AWS agreement could impact the production of our community wells, which are located adjacent to the river and are farthest downstream.
My interest was further kindled when a retired fisheries biologist commented that we were lucky that the AWS agreement contains a fisheries mandated minimum summer release, which by inference was assisting our well production in the summer months. Then, two other facts have recently come to light.
Measurements at the observation well near the Springwood well fields showed a dramatic drop in the aquifer level and the AWS consultants report concludes that in extreme drought conditions there may be insufficient water to meet the mandated fisheries release and domestic water licenses. Would that also mean the San Pariel community wells?
Then there is the plan to develop up to 2,035 new dwelling units in Nanoose using an increasing volume of Englishman River water.
The United Nations refers to the transfer of water from one watershed to another as trans boundary water (TBW).
The English River watershed including Arrowsmith Lake, the AWS currently supplies water to Nanoose and would supply Qualicum Beach in the future, if Qualicum Beach votes to retain its share.
New Zealand, an island country not unlike Vancouver Island, has established governance boundaries along watershed delineations. Nanoose is not in our watershed but could, by 2050, be receiving a minimum 22 per cent of the AWS bulk water.
As a resident, I question why AWS is not an inclusive strategy that will consider the needs of all residents in the watershed and why the transfer of a significant portion of Englishman River water out of the watershed, to support large new developments in Nanoose, is on the table.