Langley Lake is located near Union Bay and supplies the drinking water for the coastal community. Photo courtesy JET Productions.

Public meeting planned to discuss protection of Union Bay’s drinking water

Newly formed Union Bay Watershed Protection Society to host meeting March 19

Concerned residents of Union Bay have formed the Union Bay Watershed Protection Society (UBWPS) to make certain that their water source – Langley Lake – and its watershed are permanently protected.

They are inviting their neighbours to a public meeting about the lake and their drinking water on March 19, 6:30 p.m., Union Bay Hall (5401 Island Hwy).

Citizens have acted in response to a notice in late 2017 from Island Timberlands that announced to the Union Bay Improvement District (UBID) the company’s intention to log within 20 metres of the Langley Lake shoreline.

At a meeting in January, the company gave a verbal promise to postpone planned logging until 2019. While UBID owns the lake bottom, Island Timberlands owns the surrounding shore and watershed.

“Over 600 households depend on our lake for clean drinking water. It’s a fragile lake and we need to protect it,” said Ellen Van Heerden, a UBWPS founding member. “Surely we know enough to recognize that logging near any community’s drinking water is not acceptable.”

Her observations are supported by UBID’s superintendent of public works, who has shown that levels of turbidity in the lake finally settled in 2017 after a block of timber was removed along the shoreline in 2008.

MLA Scott Fraser has been involved in meetings about this issue and states that he is very concerned about it. However, provincial legislation still does not automatically protect community watersheds. Many B.C. communities, including Union Bay, have been calling on the provincial government to strengthen the legislation.

“We have watched with some dismay the increased turbidity on Comox Lake, boil water advisories in our neighboring communities and big costs for a new water treatment plant, and don’t want a similar story to happen here,” said Alice de Wolff, another UBWPS founder.

All Union Bay residents are invited to attend and share their concerns.

The meeting will provide information about Langley Lake, proposed logging and other issues, what other small B.C. communities have done to protect their watersheds, and what steps residents can take.

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