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Chapman Lake water pipeline project delayed again

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Consultants Brett deWynterm left, and Bruce Ford, present an environmental assessment of the Chapman Lake water project to the SCRD’s infrastructure services committee. Donna McMahon photo

Delays in getting approval from BC Parks mean that the SCRD’s Chapman Lake Water Supply Expansion Project, intended to assure a supply of water during drought conditions, will not be completed before 2018.

This news came out during a discussion of an environmental assessment presented by AECOM consultants at the SCRD’s Infrastructure Services Committee meeting on April 20. Construction of a deeper water intake pipe at Chapman Lake, which lies within Tetrahedron Provincial Park, was originally scheduled to be finished last fall. Due to the elevation of the lake (976 m or 3,200 ft), work can only take place during a short window in summer.

When District of Sechelt representative Doug Wright asked staff directly if the project would be finished in 2017, SCRD Chief Administrative Officer Janette Loveys responded: “At this point in time staff don’t believe that the construction will happen this year.”

Wright noted that Sechelt residents are already very concerned about water, and that Sechelt has plans for 1,600 new residential units on its books.

“I’m really concerned that this project,” Wright said. “If it doesn’t get done by 2018 and we have another summer like we had two years ago, we are going to be in real difficulty here. And I’m just wondering how feasible this project is. I’m starting to rethink this project—whether or not it’s the right project and the right way to go.”

Dave Crosby, manager of utility services, pointed out that the board endorsed a plan in 2013. “We are following our comprehensive regional water plan. This is one part of that plan.”

The committee had a number of questions for the AECOM consultants on their report. But discussion kept veering to the bigger picture, and Area F Director Ian Winn also seemed to be entertaining second thoughts.

“The question then comes to my mind is why, in a geography rich with lakes and rivers and creeks, has it come to be that there is so much demand placed on this one watershed? The demands that the broad community of the Sunshine Coast has placed on this watershed are, in my opinion, unreasonable,” said Winn. He added that it was overdue for the SCRD to create a sustainable plan.

Area E Director Lorne Lewis, a vocal opponent of the project, agreed. “We don’t have a water supply problem, we have a supply management problem. And I do believe that Chapman Lake is totally oversubscribed and we need to find more sources.”

The Water Supply Expansion Project was fast-tracked after a drought in the summer of 2015   Donna McMahon

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