Water Group

Transition Sooke’s Rainwater Harvesting group has expanded into the Water Group and is looking for new members. Contact Lynn (elmoss@shaw.ca) for more information. Topics of discussion will include greywater management and water conservation, including rainwater harvesting.

Well users, why should you keep a well log? 

The acts and bylaws that manage our water resources are meant to protect your property from the effects of neighbouring development.  Surface drainage is easy to track.  Groundwater, not so much.  People’s well logs provide the best information on what is going on down there.

Mike Hicks, the Regional Director for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, is funding a study of our water resources.  The Official Community Plans (OCP) for East Sooke and Otter Point project a certain amount of new housing. The Regional Growth Strategy has accepted the incremental increases but also limits water supplies. We are looking at the push/pull between property owners’ right to make a profit on their land and whether the land will support development. Unlimited growth versus climate change. 

The District of Sooke is reviewing its OCP.  The JdF OCPs are due for review.  We need answers to our questions about water resources before we proceed with development.   The most recent study I am aware of dates from 2004.  Much of the information about how the aquifers in the Capital Regional District perform comes from wells and well logs: good data supports science.  Keep a well log.

Before building permits are issued, the applicants must prove 1400 litres (370 gallons) of water available per day for each dwelling unit proposed. The requirement may be generous.  People having water trucked in at $225 per load are probably using less. Much less. The required 1400 litres is not for one day only.  It is supposed to be available every day for as long as the dwelling is in use.  We do not want building permits based on wishful thinking. 

We know the water table rises and falls with seasonal rains. A new and deeper well can cause a nearby well to fail.  Changes to the underground fractures in rock can affect wells.  If your well fails and you think it is because new wells have drawn off your water, how do you prove your water supply was affected if you seem to be guessing?  You need the record of how your well performed over the years. 

What is happening to your well this summer is not a guess. If you started buying water in April instead of July, you know that.  Please write to Director Hicks or Mayor Tait if you have concerns about your well. 

Here is the thing; under our present acts and bylaws, you were supposed to have the luxury of 1400 litres per day, not just in December, but also in July.  You aren’t expected to “share” the water flowing into your well.  You also have rights.  To prove your rights, you need a well log.  To protect the resource, science needs you to keep a well log.  To motivate politicians and planners, you need to express your concerns with facts not opinions.

Heather Phillips, Otter Point

PS my water is supplied by the Kemp Lake Waterworks Improvement District.

The Regional Growth Strategy and Water Supply Issues

The Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) was developed to keep future growth in the Capital Regional District compact by restricting water distribution and sewage disposal. The aim is for walkable communities and development around transportation hubs. Food sustainability is a new consideration and goal: water is necessary for agriculture. These are goals Transition Sooke members should be able to support. But how is water supply restricted and is this going to work?

The first RGS back in 2002 drew a line around the urban core supply and limited installation of water supply systems to inside that line. Areas already served with water from Sooke Lake were inside the line and there were small water supply systems already established outside that urban containment boundary. The 2018 RGS allows for some areas identified in the various municipal Official Community Plans where new water supply systems will be allowed. The Juan de Fuca Electoral Area OCPs also identify such growth areas.

People moving into our area need to understand the water resources.  

Before a building permit is issued, the builder has to prove water is available in the amount of 1,400 litres per day. Outside a growth area, each dwelling unit is supposed to have its own water source. A well or surface water extraction system that supplies more than one “dwelling unit” is considered a “water supply system.” Two dwelling units require two water sources.

There are several issues to sort. First, people who live outside the urban containment boundary are having “city water” trucked across the boundary. This is not according to plan. The plan was that every residence built outside the growth areas would have 1,400 litres of water from a well or surface water source daily

Second, properties in growth areas are supposed to have their water supply on site, not piped from Sooke Lake or trucked in. No matter how much money an investor puts towards a project, there may not be adequate water at the site. We need to know where the water resources are before planning growth.Third, the federal and provincial governments might have to step in with updated legislation and building codes to manage water. This may be needed just to sustain present residential, agricultural and commercial uses. Walkable communities, development around transportation hubs, and food security are desirable goals. Understanding and managing the water resource is not so much restricting growth as ensuring sustainable living in our area.

Rainwater Harvesting and Management Workshop – Nov 2, 2019

Concerned about our water supply in the Sooke Region?  Come to Transition Sooke’s Rainwater Harvesting and Management Workshop on Saturday November 2, 1-4 pm at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 1962 Murray Street in Sooke.

This workshop explains the rationale for rainwater as a resource and gives instructions on Best Practice HOW-TO’s in developing a workable and sustainable harvesting system. Applications such as irrigation and other outdoor uses, as well as indoor and potable uses for rainwater and water management, are covered. The workshop is based on the CSA B805-18 / ICC 805 2018 “Rainwater Standard” which is expected to become a prime reference document for municipalities across Canada.

The workshop will be facilitated by Ken Nentwig, an educator with Gaia College (courses also offered through Royal Roads University) and a consultant with the Canadian Association for Rainwater Management.  Ken develops and facilitates online courses in Rainwater Management and the CANARM RWH Certification Program for Canada.

Sue Lister, one of the organizers from Transition Sooke, explains the need for this workshop: “I’ve experienced well water running dry in seasons lacking rainfall and I see the benefits of harvesting.  I am concerned about the effects of climate change on the rainfall pattern in the Sooke Region.  Instead of the slow but steady rainfall throughout the winter months, we are now seeing shorter, but more torrential rainfalls. This type of rainfall does not allow water to penetrate into the ground. Groundwater wells, especially in the Otter Point area, are running dry. We need to look at ways to capture and conserve rainwater for irrigation and potability.” 

This workshop falls within Transition Sooke’s goal of drawing on local knowledge, skills, and resources to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels and to deal with the impacts of climate change, thus building a more resilient and sustainable community.

Anyone  interested in the topic of capturing and conserving rainwater is welcomed to attend. Donations will be gladly accepted.