STORY OF THE YEAR: Water supply being taken for granted

Water. It's everywhere. Everywhere, that is, except on the minds of Nanaimo residents.

Water. It’s everywhere.

Everywhere, that is, except on the minds of Nanaimo residents.

We turn on the tap and expect it to flow, and it always does.

But as the city’s population edges toward 100,000 people, as climate change creates a less reliable water source, and health requirements for safe, clean drinking water increase, the cost of that water arriving in our homes is becoming increasingly expensive and more complex.

Already, water user rates will be increasing by five per cent annually to fund some of these projects, but municipalities on central Vancouver Island and across Canada are struggling to find ways to pay for these severely underfunded projects.

In 10 years, unless tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money is spent to build another dam, it is projected that Nanaimo could experience significant water shortages in the summer months. Or we could run out altogether.

Water on central Vancouver Island is already a huge issue, and it will continue to be a challenge into the future.

Immediately, the city is building a $61-million water treatment facility that is expected to provide safe drinking water for at least 30 years, a requirement mandated by the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

The top issue facing Lantzville is water —further development is impossible without it, and there isn’t much to be found there, and Nanaimo city staff and council have been working on contracts to ensure an emergency water supply should the worst case scenario reach the Nanaimo River, our sole source of drinking water, or the infrastructure that has been built along it to store our water.

What’s more, even if Mother Nature cooperates by providing us with enough water, and we build a place to store it, the hundreds of kilometres of aging infrastructure that delivers it to your household will need to be repaired or replaced as time passes.

Like gasoline and electricity, what was once considered an infinite supply will one day in the near future be realized to be very finite, and therefore more expensive.

Water. It may not be the sexiest subject, or most controversial, but without a proper plan and a lot of money to ensure future water supply, nothing else really matters.