Neighbours are worried and are banding together near Lake Cowichan over fears their water supply could be taken right from under them. Five hundred homes rely on an underground aquifer between Duncan and Lake Cowichan, but as dry summer conditions lower water levels further, one neighbour is planning to pump out enormous amounts of water in a test for a future development.
Residents near Lake Cowichan looked on in disbelief Monday as drills and water pumps set up at the end of their quiet country road.
“The worst case scenario is 500 odd houses in this area will be without water forever,” says Lake Cowichan resident Ray Fenton.
Their neighbour plans to test the aquifer they all draw on by pumping out 500 gallons per minute for three days, to see if the community’s wells will produce enough water for a big housing development he’s planning.
“Five hundred gallons a minute for three days, 72 hours, 500 gallons a minute that’s a humongous amount of water,” says Fenton.
“They have a right to be concerned,” says Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) Area Director Ian Morrison. “Water levels are low, aquifers are at risk especially when pumping the volume that’s anticipated to be pumping. I would be concerned as well,” adds Morrison.
Yet despite protesting at the end of their neighbour’s driveway and calls to officials, they’ve been told he’s allowed to do this.
“He doesn’t have to have a permit to do the test,” says Lake Cowichan Resident Ellen Cameron.
The Area Director for the CVRD says he hopes it will prompt changes going forward.
“And I wish as a Regional District there was something we could do,” says Ian Morrison, “But the water sustainability act is strictly a provincial jurisdiction.”
The neighbour at the centre of the controversy, Tony Kubica, declined CHEK News’ requests for an interview but appears to be proceeding with the aquifer test. One his neighbours say they’ll be monitoring closely, watching the water they’ve conserved all summer long, run away.