SECHELT, B.C. — Some businesses and amenities on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast have been told to stop using all treated drinking water later today due to severe drought, but officials say there’s no need to panic.
The Sunshine Coast Regional District, District of Sechelt and shishalh Nation have declared a state of local emergency that takes effect Tuesday at midnight as the system that supplies water to about 90 per cent of the homes and businesses in the Sechelt area is at “imminent risk” of running dry.
The regional district says the Sechelt Aquatic Centre will be closed and a water-bottling business, several breweries and cideries and a number of concrete, asphalt and gravel businesses are also among the non-essential commercial water users covered by the order.
It says water must be saved for residents, the local hospital and fire protection, but the district’s general manager of infrastructure services says no one should panic.
Remko Rosenboom says there is enough water in the Edwards Lake and Chapman Creek system to last until mid-November and work could begin within days to upgrade the siphons taking water from the deepest points of the lake, potentially adding several more weeks of water reserves.
The Sechelt area usually records about 200 millimetres of rain between July and October, but has received less than 10, pushing the entire Sunshine Coast and several other B.C. regions to Level 5 drought conditions, the most severe on the province’s scale.
“We are not in a panic situation, yet,” said Rosenboom.
“This state of emergency has been declared to allow us to restrict the uses (by non-essential commercial water users) and it’s all with intent to ensure we are not getting into a state where we have to panic,” he says.
Rosenboom expects work will start next week on upgrades to the siphon system pulling water from the deepest parts of the Edwards Lake and Chapman Creek systems and he says the province has been approached about other solutions.
The regional district has asked for permission to reduce flows in Chapman Creek, something Rosenboom says can be done without harming fish.
The district is still waiting for a response.
—With files from CKAY
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2022.