North Cowichan receives permit to operate Chemainus wells system during summer for two years

Switch-over to Banon Creek reservoir won’t happen to hopefully minimize boil water advisories

North Cowichan has received permission under section 10 of the Water Sustainability Act to use and divert water from the Chemainus River aquifer for Chemainus during the summer for 2019 and 2020.

“The switch-over to the Banon Creek surface reservoir that usually happens on June 15 will not happen this year, hopefully reducing the need for any boil water advisories this summer,” noted Natasha Horsman, manager of Communications and Public Engagement for the municipality.

This allows North Cowichan to gather actual data on potential impacts to the Chemainus River for two years so the Province can make a decision about long-term licensing.

“The summer water source for the community of Chemainus has been a challenge for many years,” Mayor Al Siebring indicated. “What’s implicit in this decision is that there will be more technical work done to ensure that this water supply model is sustainable in the long term. But the permit is a measured and positive step forward, and will create an immediate benefit for the community this summer.”

Since 2010, North Cowichan has supplied water to Chemainus via the Chemainus River aquifer between October 15 and June 15, and from the Banon Creek surface reservoir between June 15 and October 15. Each year, this requires a switch-over between two water systems and has resulted in numerous summer boil water advisories.

In 2015, North Cowichan applied to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office for permission to withdraw water for the community from the Chemainus River aquifer year-round. In April 2018, EAO granted North Cowichan an amendment to its Environmental Assessment Certificate to allow year-round operation of the Chemainus Wells Project.

Since then, North Cowichan has been pursuing the required permission under the Water Sustainability Act.

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