Roadblock prevents water crisis in Honeymoon Bay

Did an information blockade stop a second disastrous long weekend for Honeymoon Bay’s water system?

You bet, according to Area F regional director Ian Morrison.

“We had a full reservoir all weekend,” boasted a happy Morrison as he reported on a wildly successful campaign held Friday to give visitors and residents the 4-1-1 on water conservation.

It was needed, too, as proven by the example of the BC Day holiday period.

“That weekend we actually got down to nine per cent left in our reservoir. We lost fire flows. We had to drive around the community to ask people to conserve water,” he explained.

“This week, however, the consumption numbers were well within a normal range,” he reported. “At no point was the reservoir being drained at anywhere near the pace that it was on the BC Day long weekend.”

But that was only part of the reason for the information roadblock.

“Sadly there was a whole bunch of misinformation that started floating around the community. I’ve had to explain that we didn’t have a Honeymoon Bay water shortage, we had an over-consumption problem.”

The present Honeymoon Bay reservoir will produce 450,000 litres a day without much difficulty but a month ago, it was pushed beyond its resources.

On Sunday, Aug. 3, “the well produced 438,000 litres but the reservoir was drawn down 40 per cent, that’s another 200,000 litres that day. That meant we used 638,000 litres in a 24-hour period, which is an enormous number.

“We had very clear evidence that there wasn’t complete compliance on watering restrictions,” Morrison said.

So, as the Labour Day weekend approached, a team was formed.

Morrison and his daughter, Rhianon, joined forces with the Lake Cowichan RCMP, BRI Security on behalf of the forest companies, and members of the Honeymoon Bay Volunteer Fire Department to hold a three-station information stop near the entrance to the west Cowichan community Friday, Aug. 29.

During two sessions, (3 to 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.), they stopped “in excess of 500 vehicles,” Morrison said.

There were three reasons for checking the vehicles: the police were looking for seatbelt and liquor violations, the fire fighters and security people were talking about careful use of campfires and back-country safety, and Morrison and his daughter were talking about water conservation.

“About 90 per cent of the vehicles had visitors of some kind in them,” he said.

Morrison was pleased with their success.

“The Honeymoon Bay water system performed spectacularly on the weekend. Consumption was well within normal levels,” Morrison said. “Usage was down probably 30 per cent from the highs of the BC Day weekend.”

This event showed that when residents and visitors make water conservation a priority there is more than adequate supply to meet everybody’s needs, he said, adding that he would do it again, perhaps earlier in the summer next time.

Looking to the future, the Cowichan Valley Regional District has engaged a well driller, and are in negotiations to drill for a secondary source of water for the community.

The CVRD, once the well is drilled and a source has been proven, is also working to secure funds to connect the new well source to the existing system so that it will automatically flow into the treatment and storage tank infrastructure already in place, Morrison said.

With that and a new system of metering water usage coming in 2015, over-consumption could be a thing of the past, he said.

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