While hiking along Chapman Creek up to Chapman Falls today, I was contemplating the very constructive editorial of John Gleeson (“Did SCRD pick a reservoir dog?”) regarding the plans being discussed by the SCRD directors for providing a stable water supply.
Let’s hope we can step back and look at this logically. We have one option, Site B, estimated to cost $53 million to provide 1.25 million cubic metres of water storage versus a $16-million option for C3 which will provide 80 per cent of the capacity of Site B. Put another way, that is an extra $33 million cost for that 20 per cent shortfall in water storage. Yes, that is more than double the cost of C3, just for the 20 per cent shortfall. But wait – we have another option for water supply, that being the wells being proposed. It’s been suggested the cost of those wells would be about $3 million. It would seem logical that spending $3 million rather than $33 million to make up the difference for the smaller water storage makes much more sense.
We have a water crisis now, and it’s been a crisis for at least five years. The expensive option, it is reported, would also take five to six years, whereas the cheaper option could have water available in one to two years. The environmental impact and carbon footprint of Site B would seem much larger if you consider huge fossil fuel consuming machines digging and transporting the excavated materials for two to three years. As well, using water first from a smaller lake outside Tetrahedron Provincial Park seems much more environmentally sensitive than draining Chapman Lake to its low levels each summer, which in itself seems to be a significant stressor on wildlife and habitat. Not only that, but the possibility of production of clean, renewable electrical power further improves the carbon footprint and provides a cost reduction opportunity. This may also be an opportunity for the Sechelt Nation to participate economically, as it is already involved in other power facility development, I believe. One would think that environmental approvals would be easier to obtain with a smaller carbon footprint and a reduced impact on provincial park habitat.
What is wrong with much cheaper and much faster, and probably more environmentally friendly? Yet another delay to study the Site B proposal is just that – yet another delay in a crisis situation. It was a very good sign that several of the directors were hesitant to see Site B as the only option.
The consultants have outlined the options and estimated costs, but we need to use the information to make our own local decisions which meet our needs in a timely manner. Let’s focus and move forward quickly, begin discussions with the Sechelt Nation, now, and ask taxpayers their views, now, before delaying any further while ongoing needed studies continue.
Brian Myhill-Jones, Sechelt