In the lead up to Election Day on October 20th, 2018, the Community Alliance will post answers from candidates to crucial questions. Today, we focus on water.
Question: How will you use the numerous reports and knowledge currently available on Salt Spring’s water stresses and vulnerabilities to resolve concerns and deliver safer, more sustainable, water to our residents?
Sabrina Ali (candidate for Islands Trustee):
I enthusiastically support the development of a comprehensive Water Management Strategy, specifically to address rainwater catchment, gray water and irrigation.
It seems to be a consensus that the development of ‘measureables’, against which we can chart our progress would be advisable. This would include monitoring and management of species at risk, invasive species and ecological restoration. Clear goal setting includes the development of checkpoints.
I would like to investigate what opportunities exist or can be created to encourage voluntary stewardship and I would look into the appropriateness of restrictive covenants to address water when considering rezoning applications.
I would also consult with those islanders who have water-specific knowledge and work in the field.
I would investigate working with CRD to develop tax exemptions for the protection of riparian habitat and investigate all opportunities for government funding.
I would use Development Permit Area designations for protection of the natural environment to protect watershed for community surface water supplies (OCP: A.5.2.6)
I would assist to Coordinate the implementation of the St. Mary Lake Integrated Watershed Management Plan
I would investigate solar domestic hot water rental program (OCP: A.6.2.25)
I would investigate the possibility of having site plans available for new owners for best practices in terms of environmental stewardship.
I would promote community participation in conservation through information sharing and education about private land stewardship options during the town hall meetings.
Kylie Coates (candidate for Islands Trustee):
First of all Salt spring waterworks should be one
We are one island
Changing the CRD building code that all new construction must have a 500 gallon Storage tank
And going to the Ministry of environment and asking for a government subsidies on water tanks and gray water Systems
Also building water catchment systems and a Multi Island water storage System that can be used a drought or even an earthquake As emergency water
Writing Reports are good but it seems like all we’re doing is writing them and not getting anything done
Peter Grove (candidate for Islands Trustee):
No one can “resolve” the concerns about water, but we must certainly strive to improve the way we manage and protect this essential resource. The issues are many, from mapping and identification of groundwater, to storing of surface and rainwater, to distribution, to safety. Many agencies are involved including the Islands Trust, CRD, the provincial government and the improvement districts such as North Saltspring. North Salt Spring Water certainly has its challenges, which are well known in our community. They have served their ratepayers well and do an excellent job. Unfortunately the realities of infrastructure replacement costs are such that they must make some significant changes. Negotiations are presently underway with the CRD for a long term solution. SSIWPA, consisting of representatives from all the agencies involved with water services on the island, has done good work for the island. It is in the process of developing a long term strategic plan which will help our community assess its value.
Gary Holman (candidate for CRD Director):
Water governance involves a number of agencies, each with their own jurisdiction and available tools. At a broader level, I support the continuation of the SSI Water Protection Agency (SSIWPA) on which a number of such agencies sit, and which represents an evolution of the Water Council that I first established as former CRD Director. I believe that SSIWPA, which has just developed a strategic plan, can be more effective and that the CRD can play a stronger, more constructive role.
The most pressing water-related issue facing SSI today is the moratorium on new water connections in the North SSI Water District (NSSWD), which is a key obstacle to five affordable housing projects, one of which is on the CRD Drake Road property, proposed in the Ganges area. All of these projects are developing alternative water supplies such as drilled wells and rainwater catchment, and aggressive conservation measures including use of grey water for toilet flushing. The CRD can play a role in assisting with such initiatives, depending on the specific circumstances, for example with gas tax funding, regulatory reforms, or advocacy.
Water conservation measures should be more broadly encouraged or mandated in all water districts through metering (which most water districts already have) and progressive water use rate structures, and possible financial incentives (e.g., rebates) for water conservation retrofits in residential and commercial uses. All water districts should be undertaking supply and demand studies, taking into account build out potential and the long term effects of climate change, as has NSSWD, to avoid future water supply shortages. Studies of groundwater supply capacity and vulnerabilities, should continue and more monitoring wells established, for example under the auspices of SSIWPA.
The Ganges treatment plant currently pumps millions of gallons of waste water, treated to almost potable quality standards, into Ganges Harbour. This is a waste of a scarce resource. I will secure funding for more detailed feasibility analysis, including an update of marketing analysis I initiated as CRD Director, and eventual construction of water reclamation facilities and distribution. School District 64 has reaffirmed its interest in using reclaimed water to irrigate its playing fields and in contributing to further feasibility work. I will also pursue a partnership between the CRD, NSSWD and the SSI Fire District regarding distribution and storage of treated waste water for fire fighting and other non-potable uses. CRD already contracts NSSWD to operate some of its water utilities on SSI. Both agencies continue to discuss the possibility of further integration of their operations, which could enhance coordination and provide administrative and other efficiencies, a process I support. NSSWD ratepayers would have to approve any formal integration.
Climate change is already resulting in longer drought periods during the summer, which means that storage of water will become increasingly important over time. CRD building bylaws and other rules should be reviewed and changed when they are creating unnecessary obstacles to investments in rainwater catchment. Island Health currently does not have a regulatory standard with respect to rainwater catchment for (the remainder of this response was deleted, as it exceeded the 500 word count limit).
Howard Holzapfel (candidate for Islands Trustee):
Conservation must be the first step with mandatory refitting of houses when being sold to new owners. Fresh water sources on the Island constitute a common resource and should be regulated as such with permits required for new wells. Water should not be pumped out of the watershed where it falls. We don’t have a water problem - we have a water storage problem whether from roof drainage or from sources that ultimately run off the land. I propose working with NSSWWD to install a large-capacity tank to both pressurize the Ganges area distribution system and provide fire-flow for the safety of the Ganges community.
Laura Patrick (candidate for Islands Trustee):
We can do better by managing and conserving our water supplies and employing standards to ensure long-term ecological sustainability of our watersheds while encouraging ecologically-sound housing solutions.
I understand the fragility of our island’s freshwater supplies and the increasing stress of a warming climate. We must develop a culture of water conservation within the Trust Area. We should consider evolving the Salt Spring Water Protection Alliance (SSWPA) to a Trust Area-wide conservation authority. We need to consider changes to the building code to allow, for example, ultra-low water use fixtures, dual plumbing and rainwater collection systems. These are not new concepts and have proven effective in other communities.
We need to find the right partners to offer incentive programs to help existing homeowners upgrade their homes with water conservation features. We need an education program about water conservation that targets residents, farmers, businesses, visitors, and schools. Real estate agents across the Trust Area should inform prospective purchasers as to why conservation is necessary to sustain the island’s water supplies. We must and can live with the water resources we have on our islands - communities within the Trust Area can be healthy, vibrant, and live in harmony with the natural environment, both for today and, more importantly, for tomorrow.
With our island’s natural water resources interconnected, our approach to managing and distributing these resources must be interconnected as well. I will work to improve coordination and collaboration with the Trust, CRD, the water improvement districts, and other island organizations to better share knowledge and technical expertise and understanding. I will advocate for increased water conservation measures across all organizations and uses of water resources on the island.
Robin Williams (candidate for CRD Director):
It is clear Salt Spring needs to make several break thought’s in water management. The most significant are in rainwater catchment, reclamation and reduced demand. I see to the installation of a CRD “Green Practices ” policy for all new infrastructure construction and upgrades. Finally I want to see Salt Spring and the Southern Gulf Islands receive a seat on the Island Health Board and lobby which controls many water related issues for the island.