No Solution = No Solution

Response to Marianne Hobbes Driftwood Viewpoint “Drier Days to Have Impact” – April 26, 2023.

My responses to Ms. Hobbes various points.(I have italicized her text.)

Wow! Eric Booth sure dazzled us with lots of figures and formulae in his “WHU series: water talks” Viewpoint column last week.

It would be very instructive to know the sources for his data.

Point #1 – Mr. Booth’s statement that “there is a massive available water supply on the island” is countered by a 2019 report by the CBC which stated “for years drought and freshwater shortages have plagued Salt Spring Island.”

Response – The 2019 CBC report (see – ) gave no source for the statement “for years drought and freshwater shortages have plagued Salt Spring Island.” Thus, it can only be attributed to the CBC reporter’s own, unsubstantiated conclusions, and biased use of the word “plagued.”

Ironically, he quotes no source, which appears to be good enough for Ms. Hobbes.

Point #2Whether you believe in climate change or not, simply referring to rainfall/snow melt information readily available on the CHEK News website shows that this area (southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands) has definitely suffered from droughts that start earlier and last longer, without strong winter rains or snowfall. This impacts lakes, rivers and aquifers as they can be depleted.

Response – The chart below (source – ) shows projected increases in precipitation for January, February, March, April, October, November and December, with slight decreases projected for May, June, July, August and September.

Since the vast majority of precipitation occurs October through April, recharge of aquifers would increase, not decrease. As far as our creeks go, there would be little change during the summer months. We live in a Mediterranean climate zone. Dry creek beds are nothing new on the island, and, as it pertains to availability of groundwater for human consumption, there is little/no effect.

Point #3The National Geographic website states that all of the above require rain and snow melt to “recharge” and these “can be depleted if the amount of water drawn exceeds the source’s ability to recharge.”

Response – Very little “snow melt” is involved in aquifer recharge on the island. Our aquifers are the direct result of our rainfall.

Point #4An aquifer is a source of groundwater but water obtained from it is not necessarily potable and supply may not be reliable or long-lasting. Not all groundwater from an aquifer is safe. For example, there is a history of arsenic in well water on the island. Currently, as Health Canada fine-tunes its guidelines about potable water, manganese levels challenge the Cedar Lane Water District, with a need for remediation measures.  

Response – In some areas levels of arsenic ARE above health levels, however, when indicated, water treatment systems are employed to remove it. Thus, the mere presence of arsenic is not a barrier to using water, just like the presence of manganese isn’t.

Point #5Mr. Booth seems to think that Lake Maxwell appears to be in good shape. Perhaps this has less to do with the water cycle than the good stewardship of North Salt Spring Waterworks management over the decades.

Response – Lake Maxwell IS in good shape. In fact it is in such good shape that there is about 30,000,000 additional gallons available for use BELOW the threshold recommended by NSSWD’s consulting engineers’ hydrology reports – .

Point #6We are about to enter an El Nino weather event. The projections for all of B.C. strongly indicate that the province will be in for very hot, dry weather. CRD and NSSWD will be introducing stringent measures to reduce water usage in the districts they manage, to ensure sufficient water is available for basic needs.

Response – El Ninos come and go. There is no identifiable trend over the past 140 years. Every year conservation measures, either privately or publicly, are implemented for areas which are more water challenged than others.

It is interesting to note that the last time NSSWD did an audit on water consumption (2018), the trend was headed downwards, not upwards.

Point #7(While focusing on household water needs, Mr. Booth fails to mention water consumption used in agriculture, livestock maintenance, business and services such as hospitals, schools and police/fire departments. He also omits the impact of tourism on the island’s water draw during the driest months.) We seem to be at a crossroads: if we love the island and hope to see its natural areas preserved for the future, we must think very carefully. Mr. Booth appears to be advocating greatly increased development when our resources — and particularly water — will not support it.

Response – Yes, we are at a crossroads. Either our community actively seeks viable solutions to the servicing of new workforce housing, or this community will continue to wither and die the slow death it is clearly suffering at the moment.

Conclusion – There are a number of viable solutions available to us. However, like many others who choose to ignore the big picture, Ms. Hobbes offers none. It’s almost as if they actually want to turn Salt Spring into a park devoid of young working families. The only conclusion one can arrive at is their unspoken “solution” is to import workers from Vancouver Island on a daily basis.

With all due respect, that, ladies and gentlemen, is gentrification attitude exemplified.