British Columbia

Metro Vancouver to invest over $1 billion to secure region's water supply for next century

The Metro Vancouver region uses almost 400 billion litres of water per year. By 2120, as the population grows, demand on the region's three watersheds is expected to increase to more than 600 billion litres per year.

Climate change is expected to put pressure on the regional water supply, says board

Metro Vancouver plans to increase its capacity to access water at Coquitlam Lake. (Instagram/Metro Vancouver)

The Metro Vancouver region uses almost 400 billion litres of water per year. By 2120, as the population grows, demand on the region's three watersheds is expected to increase to more than 600 billion litres per year.

To ensure there's enough water — and the capacity to support that demand — Metro Vancouver is investing more than $1 billion to increase access to the region's largest water reservoir, Coquitlam Lake.

The large investment, which will be made over the next seven years, will go toward building new infrastructure to access more of the water from Coquitlam Lake.

"Our water system is already facing pressure from climate change and we must take action to ensure our drinking water infrastructure … remains resilient and able to withstand future challenges," Sav Dhaliwal, chair of the Metro Vancouver board of directors, said in a release.

Metro Vancouver says the region has already been experiencing the effects of climate change, with a pattern of wetter winters and drier summers, which means it can no longer rely on heavy snowmelt to sustain the reservoirs during summer months — when demand is highest.

Metro Vancouver has three water reservoirs in the region: Coquitlam Lake, the Seymour watershed and the Capilano watershed, where the Cleveland Dam (pictured), holds back the waters of man-made Capilano Lake. (CBC)

New infrastructure at Coquitlam Lake

The goal, Metro Vancouver says, is to double its ability to access, treat and distribute the water at Coquitlam Lake.

To achieve this, it will construct a water supply tunnel, a second water intake, and water treatment facilities.

Metro Vancouver says it's hopeful the new infrastructure will be operational by the mid-2030s, however, it's still in the design stage.

Metro Vancouver expects its new infrastructure will be operational by the mid-2030s. (Metro Vancouver)

"Once operational, this major infrastructure project will help meet the region's water needs well into the next half-century while increasing our system's resilience to climate change," said Malcolm Brodie, chair of Metro Vancouver's water committee.

Although there aren't any official plans, Metro Vancouver says it is also looking at the possibility of increasing access at the Seymour and Capilano watersheds. 

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