Metering will not cure Comox Valley’s water problems

Dear editor,

Universal water metering makes sense in communities that source their water from hard water aquifers or where water is scarce.

Dear editor,

Universal water metering makes sense in communities that source their water from hard water aquifers, making water treatment very expensive or in communities where water is scarce.

These conditions do not exist in the Comox Valley.

Our water is primarily rainwater (soft and inexpensive to treat with a little chlorine) and we have lots of it.

Even if statistics were to show that residents use more water than the provincial or national average, what does it matter anyway?

If we don’t use it, it just goes into the ocean. It is not as if our use is going to deprive some other users downstream. There aren’t any.

In the water department, Mother Nature has provided for us very well. I rains and it rains a lot for half the year. In our watershed we have a natural reservoir (Comox Lake) that has a usable capacity (between high- and low-water marks) of 94 million cubic metres.

Above this reservoir, our watershed keeps rising in elevation. Between 3,000 and 6,000 feet elevation it snows during the winter. This snowpack slowly melts during the warmer, drier months providing us with more water just when we need it.

Not only that, but at the very top of the watershed we have a glacier! The absolute worst-case scenarios of drought and/or climate change would just make this glacier melt faster and we would still have water!

All the smartest engineers and bureaucrats in the world could not have devised a better, more reliable water system. We don’t have a water problem; we have a water storage and delivery problem.

Decades of successive local governments have underinvested in our water system. We don’t even have our own intake out of the reservoir and our aged water mains leak.

According to the existing water licences, we consume a mere one per cent of what BC Hydro uses.

We could build our own intake or we could build a raw water reservoir (RWR) large enough to supply our needs when BC Hydro periodically cuts us off to perform maintenance on its plant.

While the RWR would not immediately improve water quality like the deep intake would, it would give us more options.

BC Hydro routinely has to release excess water from the reservoir. Some of that could be added to the RWR and stored for later use. With the RWR we could have a fenced, secure and constantly monitored source of water, something we will never have with the existing reservoir and deep intake alone.

Or how about raising the level of Comox Lake by a foot? This would increase the usable capacity of the reservoir by 10 per cent.

Surely after growing capacity by that much we could apply for and get one more percent of the flow (revised upwards) and BC Hydro would not have to release “excess water” as often. That would double our current supply overnight.

Why bother/waste money on meters?

Five years ago the cost of universal metering was estimated at $7 million. Our politicians and bureaucrats seem intent on taking the easy way out by blaming us, the users, for the “problem” and spending our own money to do it.

What they should be doing is investing our money where it will do some good to increase supply, detect/fix leaks and improve the quality/reliability of the resource. Metering will do none of the above.

Francois Lepine,

Courtenay

 

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