Tuesday January 3, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated Jan 7, 2023]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Water supply management by the Juan de Fuca Water Distribution Commission is “a big deal” was one of the opening messages heard by the commission members today at their first meeting of 2023.
Around the table were five new faces, and they had questions to help bring themselves up to speed on the Juan de Fuca Water Distribution Service.
New to the 2022-2026 JDF Water Distribution Commission are newly-elected (October 15, 2022 election) city councillors Colby Harder (Langford) and Mary Wagner (Langford), as well as David Grove (Colwood), Shelly Donaldson (Metchosin) and Al Wickheim (JDF Electoral Area).
Returning to the JDF Water Distribution Commission is Kevin Pearson (Sooke) after four years not in elected office, as well as re-elected councillors Gord Baird (Highlands) and John Rogers (View Royal).
Baird was elected as chair, and Rogers as vice-chair. Rogers was further appointed to sit on the CRD’s Water Advisory Committee (for a two-year term).
Outgoing JDF Water distribution Commission Chair Gordie Logan was recognized for his service (Logan did not seek reelection to Colwood council in October 2022).
Technical and strategic presentations:
CRD staff made some basic presentations about the regional water supply, a Juan de Fuca Water Distribution System, Juan de Fuca Water Service delivery, CRD departmental programs (including Water Watch about reservoir levels), and budgets. | Presentation to JDF Water Distribution Committee Jan 3, 2023 | Map of JDF Drinking Water Distribution System
Leading most of the staff presentations was Ian Jesney, Acting General Manager, Integrated water Services, CRD. Also attending was Shayne Irg, Senior Manager, Water Infrastructure Operations.
Former long-time general manager of Integrated Water Services, Ted Robbins, was recently promoted within CRD to the position of CAO.
Large service area:
The JDF Water Distribution System serves residents, business and industry in Langford, Colwood, Highlands, Metchosin and the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area (which includes East Sooke, and west of Sooke out to Port Renfrew).
The system includes:
- about 538 km of water mains, ranging in size from 25 mm to 610 mm (55% are PVC, 29% DI, and 16% AC);
- 2,480 hydrants, 33 pump stations, and 13 reservoirs (the main one being the Sooke Lake Reservoir supplying 90% of the region’s water);
- approximately 26,300 service connections.
General maintenance is driven by requirements for repairs. New infrastructure is development-driven.
The system’s remaining asbestos-lined pipes are being replaced on a scheduled basis, it was stated by staff at the meeting today.
The 2023 water billing rate has gone up 4.99% on a regional level, with 6% being the JDF retail rate in 2023 ($2.5466 per cubic meter).
Customers in the JDF Water Distribution System use 19% (9.21 million cubic meters) of the annual regional water supply.
Billing in parts of the Westhills development in Langford (where geothermal is used for home heating) is done through a local utility called SSL (which sells water to JDF/CRD).
Link: CRD – Understanding your Water Rate (2022)
The total CRD water service budget for 2023 is $23.97 million.
Of that, $7.59 million is earmarked for operations. $7.09 million on bulk water purchase, $7.43 million will be transferred into the capital budget, and $1.86 will be spent on debt servicing.
Christmas usage up:
As a point of interest, it was noted that for some reason water usage was above average on December 24 and 25 in 2022, perhaps because more people were staying home this year due to snowy weather conditions.
Jesney said that spikes in water usage are usually due to irrigation, which would not of course be the case during snowy winter weather.
East Sooke expansion options:
Today there was also a highly detailed East Sooke Water Servicing Study report presented to the commission by staff. Four main water distribution options for East Sooke as that area slowly expands (driven by development).
The research and compilation of the report was extensive, as originally requested by former Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks; Hicks did not seek re-election in October 2022 but clearly left this detailed documentation of possible ways forward for East Sooke as one of his legacies.
Option 1: Sooke to Anderson Cove. Capital cost $57.1 million. Would service existing homes in Anderson Cove, Wilderness Mountain,and Seedtree area plus an additional 80 single family home for additional properties on Gillespie Rd and/or Seedtree Rd. Includes: 27 km of new water main, reservoirs at Glinz Rd and Ambience Rd, 1,270 potential new service connections, cost per new service connection $45,000.
Option 2: Anderson Cove to Gillespie. Capital cost $34.1 million. Would service existing homes in Anderson Cove, Wilderness Mountain and Seedtree area, and up to 200 new single family home connections. Includes: 16 km new water main and appurtenances, reservoirs at Mount Matheson and Ambience Rd, two booster pumping stations and two pressure reducing stations, 500 potential new service connections, estimated cost per new service connection $68,000.
Option 3: Sooke to East Sooke Road. Capital cost of $51.8 million. Would service existing homes in Wilderness Mountain and Seedtree area. Includes: 23.8 km of new water main and appurtenances, reservoir at Glinz Rd and Ambience Rd, two booster pumping stations, six pressure reducing stations, 1,030 potential new service connections, estimated cost per new service connection $50,000.
Option 4: Extension to Sooke Boundary. Capital cost $16.2 million. Would service properties along the route developed to existing zoning. Would include: 7.8 km of new water main and appurtenances, a reservoir at Glinz Rd, a booster pumping station, a pressure reducing station, 210 potential new service connections, estimated cost per new service connection $77,000.
Results of the East Sooke study indicate that “expansion is administratively feasible but would require significant and costly infrastructure to service properties to current zoning”. The report further concludes that “any new required water serving bylaws would need to be considered by the CRD Board for consistency with the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS)”. The RGS has long pointed to population increases in Langford and Colwood over and above rural areas, with a concomitant development of support services for urban growth.
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