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A race to drill water wells

A race to drill water wells

At its Dec. 4 meeting, Gibsons council gave 2019 pre-budget approval of $150,000 for drilling a new well to supply its water to Zone 3. Most of this zone is north of Gibsons Way and Steinbrunner Road.  The Town is considering expanding water service into this area, which is currently gets water from the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD). To have the water supply to expand its service, Gibsons needs to drill a well, test the amount of supply and then apply to the province for an additional water licence.

Drilling and testing of the well had originally been planned for 2020.  Moving the program forward was viewed as important as the SCRD has also conducted test drilling within the aquifer area.  At the meeting, Dave Newman, town director of infrastructure services advised council that the SCRD is in a position to apply to the province for a water licence. Awarding of additional licences could impact the water supply available to existing licence holders, including the town.

“Part of that application process would be referrals to potentially affected parties.   At that point, the town could make our concerns known,” said Newman.

Emanuel Machado, the town’s chief administrative officer, noted that a water licence application by the SCRD could be problematic for the Town.  “We have invested over $7 million to maintain the health of the aquifer.  Our residents have reduced water consumption by 50 per cent over recent years. From a regional cooperation perspective, water remains available in the aquifer because of the work of the town and people of Gibsons,” said Machado.

Town staff will be providing a detailed briefing for council on issues related to the aquifer in the coming weeks.

When contacted for a comment, Cecilia Garcia, SCRD communications officer, confirmed that the SCRD drilled a test well in the Mahan area of Gibsons in September, 2018. “A report on the second phase of our groundwater investigation project is scheduled to be brought to our infrastructure services committee in January 2019. It will be up to the board to decide if, and when a water supply well will be drilled on this site and applications for the required authorizations will be made,” said Garcia.

The early approval of Gibsons’ well drilling project means the work can be done in conjunction with an existing contract with Drillwell Enterprises. The contractor will also undertake regular well inspections for town wells 2 and 3 in Dougall Park.  Regular monitoring of wells is required by Vancouver Coastal Health.

Three monitoring wells will also be drilled in Lower Gibsons.  Two will be to monitor pressure in the aquifer.  One, in the area of Winegarden Park, will be drilled to check on potential salt infiltration.  The work is scheduled to be completed by March.  Connie Jordison

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