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Sunshine Coast given provincial approval for new water-saving measure

Fears of another devastating drought have been looming over the Sunshine Coast as hot, dry weather impacts the province this spring.

It’s these fears that led Gibsons Mayor Silas White to write a letter to the province, requesting help getting a head start on mitigating drought effects.

On Friday, part of his request was approved. According to the B.C. Forests Ministry, a water licence has been approved for the Church Road Well.

The well was built near Gibsons last year to help support communities that rely on Chapman Lake for water. It will provide an additional three million litres of water per day to the Chapman water system.

"Ideally, we would be pumping once the water quit going over the dam, because then we could save more water behind the dam,” said Leonard Lee, chair of the Sunshine Coast Regional District Board.

There are still two other water licences that are pending, something the mayor believes will help to limit the number of water restrictions later this summer.

White's letter asks for approval to lower the environmental flow requirements of Chapman Creek and support the community's request to siphon the Chapman and Edwards lakes this year and next year during Stage 4 water restrictions, should the need arise.

“We recently received the adaptive management plan and low flow data from Sunshine Coast Regional District and are actively reviewing the submitted information to form a decision on the use of water under this water licence,” the ministry wrote in a statement to CTV News.

Communities on the Sunshine Coast typically get 90 millimeters of rain in May, but this year, only about one quarter of the normal amount fell.

“We've been seeing this coming for some time, only it's worse than what we predicted,” said Suzanne Senger, the executive director of the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association.

"The droughts hit year after year after year and we are recognizing that the carrying capacity of Chapman Lake is just not enough for long-term growth."

The long-term impacts of annual droughts could be far-reaching.

"Without a healthy, functioning ecosystem, things dry up," Senger said. "It affects the fish and the cycle of the trees aren't making it as well."

Lee believes further water restrictions will be possible later this summer.

"We are pretty convinced that 2023 is going to be another one of those extreme dry periods,” said Lee.

The Sunshine Coast is currently under Stage 1 water restrictions, which include limitations to plant watering and vehicle washing.  


This story has been updated to reflect the location of the Church Road well. It is near Gibsons, but outside the town's borders. Top Stories

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