British Columbia

Water shortage hits two Bowen Island neighbourhoods

Residents of two Bowen Island neighbourhoods have been forced to restrict their outdoor water use because of wells that are mysteriously under-performing.

Level 4 water restrictions have been in place since May

Watering restrictions have been in place in two Bowen Island neighbourhoods since May. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters )

Residents of two Bowen Island neighbourhoods have been forced to restrict their outdoor water use because of wells that are mysteriously under-performing.

The water wells in question serve Bluewater Park. The water levels were found to be low in late April, at which point the municipality connected the neighbourhood to a nearby water system, causing concern over that system's levels.

"Bluewater levels had rapidly declined to which required increased dependence on the King Edward Bay system, which is a neighbouring municipal water system," explained Kathy Lalonde, Bowen Island Municipality's Chief Administrative Officer.

"We're trying to figure out at this stage why there is a lack of water in existing wells."

Restrictions in place

In the meantime, residents of the nearly 200 homes in Bluewater Park and King Edward Bay have been under level 4 water restrictions, which means no watering of lawns or gardens.

The municipality relaxed those restrictions on a trial basis at the beginning of July, allowing residents to water gardens by hand. If the wells can't keep up with demand, hand-watering will no longer be allowed.

Bowen Island has seven water systems providing water to its residents. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

Rob Gloor lives in Bluewater Park and says the restrictions came out of nowhere. 

"The water restrictions started very suddenly in the spring at a stage that's much earlier than we might normally expect," he said. 

Investigation underway

In an attempt to figure out why the wells are under-performing, the municipality has hired Urban Systems to investigate the shortage and come up with a plan to supply water to the affected neighbourhoods.

In a preliminary report made public by the municipality, Urban Systems says the cause of the under-performing wells could either be fouling of the well equipment or depleted sources. A final report is expected July 29.

Lalonde says this is part of the bigger issue of water supply on Bowen Island. Right now, there are seven different systems providing water to houses.

"What we were looking at doing long-term, which we need to accelerate, is look at an overall match plan for our water utilities," she explained. "Because this is, I think, a reflection of climate change. So we're looking at ... maybe creating a single optimized water utility."

Lalonde is asking residents to share their email addresses with the municipality so residents can receive updates and information on the water conservation efforts. 

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