The backers of a proposed all-season resort on Brohm Ridge are set to turn on water-level testing wells in Paradise Valley, the project’s proposed water source.
Garibaldi at Squamish (GAS) proponents anticipate starting up the pumps on three wells early next week. The wells will stay on for three days at a flow rate of approximately 70 litres per second, hydrogeological consultant Piteau Associates stated in a letter to those who live near the drilling site.
It’s all part of the 22,000-bed-unit, 25 ski-lift proposal’s latest effort to secure a water source for the four-season alpine resort. In June 2010, GAS hit a snag when B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office ordered the environmental certification process for the development be put on hold pending receipt of further information — a water source being the major component. Proponents have been given until June 2013 to provide the requested information.
Original plans would have seen the developers tap into Brohm Creek, filling eight hillside reservoirs. The idea was challenged because of the relatively small size of the creek and potential impacts to fish habitat.
GAS officials hope to broaden their testing field in Paradise Valley, said Chris Gillham, the project’s infrastructure consultant. Officials are seeking the help of residents located within 500 metres of the test wells willing to volunteer access to their wells for monitoring of water levels during the pumping test.
“The more (wells) you have, the better you can define issues,” he said.
On Tuesday (Feb. 5), GAS representatives met with property owners to go over the study. Consultants anticipate drawing water from the 120-foot-deep (36.5 metres) wells may drop the flow of the nearby Cheakamus River by 1.2 per cent. During the 72-hour test, water will be discharged into the river and measurements taken to ensure there’s no detrimental impacts to fish habitat, consultants stated.
Until the test is underway, there’s no data, Gillham said. This is part of a broader evaluation process, he noted. Gillham said he hopes to have a preliminary report ready by the end of February.
Paradise Trails proponents are keeping a close eye on the tests. Only once the results are in will the 82-lot subdivision and equestrian centre’s developers know whether GAS’s potential water draw would affect their project, Paradise Trails representative Omar Lalani said.
The Paradise Trails development would be on a well system, along with water required for the eventual residents to keep up to 75 horses, he said. GAS does have a test well on the Paradise Trails property to monitor water levels, Lalani said.
“I don’t know how much water is out there,” he said. “There may be so much water that there might be water for all of us.”
GAS’s proponents have to prove that’s the case, project founder Wolfgang Richter said. The 70 litres-per-second draw rate matches water use by the District of Squamish’s system, one that’s riddled with leaks, he noted.
If given the go-ahead, GAS would use modern technology incorporating water conservation measures, Richter said.
“That conversation is already underway,” he said.
Local environmentalist John Buchanan warned that once the pumps turn on, they could negatively affect nearby creeks. Water testing for a development in Britannia Beach recently emptied out Thistle Creek, killing fish, he said. Buchanan, however, noted that GAS proponents have said they were placing monitoring equipment on Swift Creek.