Stage 3 watering restrictions were put in place lest we find ourselves in the above-noted position.
All winter long there is plenty of rain and all year around we are surrounded by rivers that threaten to overflow their banks and yet none of this water is a resource for our community water supply. The use of surface water is an option but best left for emergencies only. We are presently obtaining all our water from ground water, which is of the highest quality. Presently our entire water needs are being met by drawing from a large aquifer fed by the Mamquam Glacier. If we have to go to surface water, it would result in a water quality advisory. This supply, although a good, clean source, and disinfected with chlorine, could be subject to turbidity and chlorine-resistant micro-organisms, which would result in boil-water advisories. The additional concern is that the time we would need to draw on this surface water the most is just when these rivers are at their lowest levels.
Our current water-supply shortage is a result of several different factors. We have done a complete audit of our infrastructure and identified the need to replace our aged and leaking water pipes and reservoirs. We have been conducting leak detection and have developed a capital replacement plan and a financial plan to address this deficit over time.
Squamish is an amazing place to live and the word is out to the rest of the world. As a result, we are one of the fastest growing communities in B.C. with one of the youngest populations.
This growth necessitates additional water supply be put in place. As we have been growing over the years, we have been adding additional pumps to supply our needs. With the anticipated growth, we will need to add pumps and reservoirs and possibly a new source.
The most effective system of supply includes a combination of pumps and reservoirs. The reservoirs are drained down at peak demand and then the pumps restore the levels during periods of low demand. This additional infrastructure represents huge costs, in the millions of dollars. Generally we have sufficient infrastructure to supply water to meet the needs of our existing population, except for those long hot summers where demand peaks.
This peak in summer use comes on top of the fact that in Squamish, our rate of water consumption per person is almost 40 per cent above the national average. The bottom line is that the first and most effective solution is water conservation being accepted and practiced by everyone in the community. This will save us from having to use surface water and will allow us to delay accessing new water sources. In turn, we will be able to postpone huge infrastructure projects that will save millions of dollars and free up capacity to absorb additional growth. With cooler temperatures and the odd shower of rain, we have seen a reduction in consumption and as a result, are falling back to Stage 2.
In the same way we have adopted recycling as a way of life, we need to practice reduced water consumption and all do our part to bring our per-person consumption levels at least down to the national average. Thank you all for helping us get through a wonderful long, hot summer. Please have a look at the district website for ideas and suggestions on reducing your personal consumption levels.