The ferry terminal at Quathiaski Cove. The regional district is looking at the feasibility of a water system in the community. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Strathcona Regional District looks at water feasibility study on Quadra Island

Regional district will also be applying for funding to help with study for Quathiaski area

The Strathcona Regional District wants to look at the feasibility of a water system for the Quathiaski Cove area of Quadra Island.

At the May 28 board meeting, board members unanimously passed motions to submit an application to the Infrastructure Planning Grant Program to provide funding for a Quathiaski Cove water system feasibility study and to proceed with the procurement of the study to be funded from the Area C Feasibility Service up to a maximum of $10,000 for the remaining portion.

“This comes out of protracted conversation with Island Health over issues of development on Quadra,” Area C Director Jim Abram said.

A staff report notes the Quathiaski Village Plan supports growth in the cove area and that a water system will be needed. At present, there are a number of development proposals. However, Abram said development of water systems are being held up by Island Health, which he said had not supported Quadra’s local area plan. In contrast, Abram said, the plan had been supported by all the ministries to which it has been referred.

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“Island Health has given preliminary approval, then they have changed what they’ve asked for,” he said. “The applicants have done what Island Health asked…. What it comes down to is Island Health does not want – key word ‘want’ – to deal with small water systems.”

Abram described a “small water system” as any with more than one user drawing on a well.

Island Health confirmed that according to drinking water requirements in B.C., covered by the Drinking Water Protection Act and the Drinking Water Protection Regulation, a water supply system is defined as a domestic water supply that has two or more connections to a single source. As well, Island Health said requirements to meet the provincial standards for potable water are the same for all sizes of water systems.

“People consuming water from a large water system or a small water system should have the same level of certainty that the water they are drinking is safe and will not cause harm. We appreciate how challenging it can be for small communities and small systems to meet the requirements. It is for this reason that municipally-run systems are favourable over small systems as they will have access to more resources (government grants, loans, etc.) and have more capacity to manage and maintain over the long term,” said Dr. Charmaine Enns, Island Health Medical Health Officer, in an email statement to the Mirror.

The SRD board approved a motion that the regional district should look to the Infrastructure Planning Grant Program to help pay for a feasibility study of a water system. The estimated total cost is $20,000.

“I can support that, provided there’s money out there to do it,” Abram said.

The grant would cover up to $10,000. In addition to this funding, the study could be covered in part up to a maximum of $10,000 from the Area C Feasibility Service fund, as allocated in the 2019 budget.

An initial groundwater study was undertaken in 2013 by Thurber Engineering, which found there was a good chance of finding the needed groundwater yield from the Quadra sand aquifer to supply the Quathiaski community. The new study would build on these findings and explore what infrastructure would be needed.

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