Water concerns increasing in Yellow Point

Residents in Yellow Point and Cedar are at a loss on where to turn for help with their concerns over a sustainable water source.

Residents in Yellow Point and Cedar are at a loss on where to turn for help with concerns over a sustainable water source.

The Residents Committee on Water formed in February, and along with the Mid Island Sustainability and Stewardship Initiative, has raised alarms over the quantity and quality of water available in the Yellow Point aquifer.

Laurie Gourlay, committee member and president of MISSI, said the problem is no level of government has solid information on the 80-square-kilometre aquifer that encompasses parts of both the Regional District of Nanaimo, Cowichan Valley Regional District, and portions of Nanaimo and Ladysmith.

“The problem is there is no sharing of data and there is jurisdictional conflicts over zoning and development and what they want to see those areas,” he said. “They draw a straight line and then don’t look across the line to see the total result.”

Water in the Yellow Point aquifer flows through sedimentary rock fractures and pores and has a poor recharge system.

Gourlay said residents relying on wells for homes and farms are feeling the impact of the aquifer’s recharge capabilities.

“Some have drilled new wells that have turned out to be just as poor and some folks are trucking in water,” he said. “I’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to secure a water supply for our crops. But it’s getting worse – the well that used to run dry in September now runs dry in June just when we need it.”

The committee is not trying to point fingers, but look for solutions.

“We’re asking all governments to work together so there’s co-operation in planning for future needs,” said Gourlay. “We need someone who can co-ordinate all the information and come up with a picture of what’s going on.

“We don’t have enough water for the people who are here now, and yet, there is talk of more development.”

Pat Lapcevic, a hydrogeologist with B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said there is no simple answer over jurisdiction of the water.

“You’re talking multiple levels of government, whether it be municipal, regional, provincial or federal and they all have different areas of responsibilities,” she said. “Issues around contamination gets more complicated as there are more regulations that go along with that.”

But Lapcevic is certain stakeholders need to look at the bigger picture and treat the aquifer a system that needs to be managed.

“We’re not sure if we take a certain amount of water from the Yellow Point aquifer if it is going to recharge,” she said. “One observation well near Woodley Range toward Ladysmith is showing that in that location, the aquifer is not recharging sufficiently.”

The RDN installed a second observation well near Holden Corso Road in the spring and a private well monitoring program is scheduled to begin this summer.

“Spreading out these measuring points will give us a better assessment of the whole aquifer,” said Lapcevic. “Putting in an observation well is expensive so this should help. The RDN will provide the equipment, the province provides the expertise and quality control and the residents volunteer their well and do the data collection. It’s a good community project that starts to address the issues.”

Recommendations from the Residents Committee on Water include: rainwater harvesting for use in grey water and toilets; possible development bans in areas that could affect the water supply; and cisterns and reservoirs.

“These are amateur suggestions from residents who know there is a problem and are asking what can they do,” said Gourlay. “We would like to see protective measures put in place so that those who are living here know there is going to be a dependable and secure supply of water.”



Just Posted

Gabriola singer-songwriter Sarah Osborne, Cowichan Valley duo Heartwood, Vancouver singer Kelly Haigh and Nanaimo bluesman David Gogo (clockwise from top-left) are among the performers in this year’s Cultivate Festival. (Photos submitted)
Gabriola Arts Council presents COVID-conscious Cultivate Festival

Theatre, music and art festival returns to Gabriola Island after 2020 hiatus

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Retailers say they’re ready for the ban on single-use plastic checkout bags in Nanaimo when it takes effect July 1. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Retailers report they’re ready for Nanaimo’s single-use checkout bag ban

Business operators say there’s been plenty of time to plan and prepare for bylaw that kicks in July 1

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews on scene at a boat fire near the boat ramp at Long Lake on Sunday, June 20. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Boat burns up on Nanaimo’s Long Lake, man and child unhurt

Jet skiers attempt to put out fire by circling around to spray water on burning boat

Nanaimo Track and Field Club athletes are off to a fast start this season after no competition last season due to the pandemic. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo athletes back on track, starting with club competitions

Nanaimo Track and Field Club registration filled up

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctos urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

Robin Dutton, left, and Peter Sinclair are taking their mountain bikes and travelling down trails in the Mount Benson area June 19 as part of a 24-hour fundraiser benefiting Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Full-day mountain bike fundraiser gives financial support for Nanaimo food bank

Event part of Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank’s Food 4 Summer campaign

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Most Read