Water we waiting for? A leaked document?

In November 2019, now 1 1/2 years ago, I exposed the fact that North Salt Spring Waterworks District’s Lake Maxwell system had an abundance of water in reserve, in spite of the moratorium which was put into effect in 2015.

One of the critical points I uncovered during my investigation was that in December 2014, NSSWD staff reported to the Board they had installed a control valve on their water tank property on Ganges Hill. The installation of that valve stopped the estimated 14 million gallons a year leak in the system. That leak had evidently been allowed for years, and, is evident in the pre-2015 data of bulk withdrawals.

Given that 14 million gallons is equal to about 30% of the ENTIRE metered withdrawals of 2015 to 2019, this “leak” should have been major news in 2014/15 given a temporary moratorium had already been announced in the summer of 2014.

And yet, the only place that information has ever been made public, other than previously on this blog site, was in the December 2014 minutes of the Board. (see page 2 – Operations https://northsaltspringwaterworks.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Minutes-Trustees-Meeting-Dec-17-2014.pdf )

Five months after that Board meeting, in April 2015, the Lake Maxwell Hydrology study by consultant group Kerr Wood Leidel (“KWL”) was published and released to the public. No mention was made of the recapture of the “leak,” or, the effect it would have on the study itself….which was primarily to determine how much water was available for consumption.

KWL concluded, due to their drought and climate change projections, that no more than 72% of the current licensed amount should be utilized by NSSWD. 72% of the licensed amount (146,000,000 imperial gallons/year) is equal to 105,120,000 ig/year.

How much do ratepayers, on average, currently use of that 105,120,000?

Well, that depends on which years you use for determining the average.

The 2021 KWL study, for some unknown reason, used the 2010-2020 average = 56,943,439 ig/year (258,870 m3/year).

(See – 6.1.6 NSWWD currently withdraws about 258,870 m3/year from Maxwell Lake on average (2010-2020).)

However, if you don’t use any of the years before the 14,000,000 leak was stopped, then the average of the last six years (2015-2020) is just 47,758,863 ig/year.

That’s a difference of 56,943,439 – 47,758,863 = 9,184,576

9,184,576/47,758,863 = 20% of the average current bulk withdrawals from 2015-2020.

In other words, the 2021 KWL Study, by using the skewed 2010-2014 data (when the leak was occurring), has skewed the data, making it look like we are, on average, using 20% more water than what we are actually using, and, have been, on average, using for the past 6 years.


Further, the 2021 KWL Study has reduced the recommended maximum use of the water licenses which NSSWD hold, from 72% to 53%….coincidentally about 20%.

The 2010 to 2020 data CLEARLY show the recapture of the leak….notice the significant drop between 2013 and 2015, and then the levelling off of bulk withdrawals in the 46-48M range. (Remember, the leak was stopped late in 2014)

YearBulk Withdrawal
Average 2015-202047,758,863 = 32.7% of total licensed amount

One of three things is going on here.

1. The data is being purposefully skewed, or

2. The data is being incompetently skewed, or

3. The consultants were not informed of the impact of the leak.

Perhaps no one at NSSWD told the consultants about the leak repair. That would raise questions about staff’s action, or lack thereof. Given the professionals at KWL, this is my preferred belief.

However, if staff did report the 2014 leak repair to KWL, and KWL chose to ignore that relevant data, then KWL, in my opinion, is arguably incompetent.

If NSSWD staff did report the repair, when did they report it to KWL? In 2014/15 or 2020/21?

The above questions need to be answered immediately, prior to the review of the moratorium, which is the next step in the process.

I plan on bringing the above questions to the attention of KWL and ask them directly, as a ratepayer, why they apparently have not taken into consideration the “leak” repair in either of their reports.

Open letter to KWL:

June 1, 2021

To – Deighen Blakely, M.Sc., P.Eng. Project Manager, Tara Paradis, EIT Junior Engineer, Craig Sutherland, M.Sc., P.Eng. Technical Reviewer

May 2021 KWL Project No. 2932.025-300

Dear Deighen, Tara and Craig,

I have reviewed both the 2015 KWL and 2021 KWL Lake Maxwell Studies, and find important data and relevant historical events apparently missing.

I have placed my findings on my blog at Water we waiting for? A leaked document? | islandstrust (wordpress.com)

I would appreciate it if you could respond to the questions I raise at the end of the article at your earliest convenience.

As your 2021 study will form an important part of the dialogue which will now proceed regarding NSSWD’s moratorium, I believe if corrections/additions/amendments to your two reports need to be made, now is the time to do so.

If you would like to discuss any portion of my blog, please feel free to contact me directly.

Thank you for your attention.

Best regards,

Eric Booth