Water issue needs debate

The issue is complex and deserves examination

The Arrowsmith Water Service board recently accepted a consultant’s report, that outlined the building of a new intake and water treatment plant on the Englishman River. 

The presentation made by consultants from Burnaby, invites many questions and appears to resolve a relatively small part of the complex challenge.  

It looks as if that the total estimated cost of $52 million dollars, will only provide a limited proportion of the future drinking water needs for a growing population.

 The consultants stated that by 2050, about 50 per cent of the overall annual water supply for the AWS system will come from the Englishman River, and that existing groundwater wells will continue to be operated and any increased usage will be managed to not exceed sustainable aquifer yield. 

What they didn’t mention was that existing well field and groundwater catchment area, that provides the other 50 per cent is already under severe stress, both for water quantity and quality. The water level in an observation well in the proximity of the wells is declining rapidly, and groundwater levels have dropped nine meters (almost 30 feet) in the past 30 years.

Considering projections for future growth, existing water problems in the area, and anticipated climate changes; the future drinking water supply solutions should be developed in consultation with the people, not from the ‘top down’. 

It is time that the residents from the entire Oceanside area form an independent drinking water management advisory board, to help provide a consumer based perspective on the entire regional water supply issue. 

Trevor Wicks     

Qualicum Beach


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