Gibsons aquifer faces unprecedented threat, says mayor 

Sunshine Coast Regional District is looking at using water from the Gibsons aquifer to supplement water supply from Chapman Creek

By Margot Grant

A confrontation is shaping up between the town of Gibsons and the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) over the aquifer that supplies the town’s water, and Gibsons Mayor Wayne Rowe calls it “a much greater threat to the aquifer than anything we have ever heard before.” 

He made the comment at the November 7 council meeting.

The Sunshine Coast Regional District is looking at using water from the Gibsons aquifer to supplement the water supply from Chapman Creek.

Gibsons council plans to tell the SCRD it does not support any investigative drilling until a joint groundwater-management plan has been adopted. A meeting between the town and the SCRD is planned for later this month; in the meantime, Rowe has asked staff to determine what options the town has if the SCRD were to proceed with drilling.

On October 19, the SCRD infrastructure service committee and staff presented a report indicating four sites for potential groundwater production: Mahan Road in Gibsons; Gray Creek on Sechelt Inlet Road; Soames/Granthams next to the Soames Point reservoir; and Chapman/Sechelt on Dusty Road. The sites were selected by SCRD consultant Waterline Resources Inc.

The town is not worried about the Soames/Granthams site because it is likely not hydraulically connected to the Gibsons aquifer.

The aquifer supplies almost 75 per cent of Gibsons’ drinking water. Although the town had an aquifer-mapping study done in 2013, the capacity of the aquifer is unknown, said director of engineering Dave Newman.

It takes 10 years for one drop of water to trickle down from the mountain, which is considered fast in geological terms, added Newman. The town wants a long-term study to monitor the effects of increased population and consumption: the town is slated to grow to 10,000 residents, while the aquifer is thought to have sufficient capacity for 7,300 people.  Drawing water out of the aquifer for SCRD use could seriously impact the town’s ability to supply enough water for its own population, town staff wrote in a report to council.

Gibsons chief administrative officer Emanuel Machado said that the town’s aquifer-mapping study was discussed with the SCRD in 2013, and he is surprised the SCRD would be interested in drawing water from the aquifer.

Newman noted the SCRD had not engaged the town in its groundwater investigation. “We don’t know how much consideration was given to the town’s water supply,” he said.

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  1. The greatest threat to Gibsons Aquifer (more properly, Mount Elphinstone Aquifer) is not through sharing it with our neighbours; it is by puncturing it with construction of the Gouge (oops, I mean George) condo project and contaminating the water with the toxins on that site.

    1. I agree. I’d heard already (I forget where) that the Gibsons Aquifer would have to supply water to the SCRD if necessary–so this is old news. Maybe Mayor Rowe just wants all that water for The George Hotel and similar mega-projects–that is if it doesn’t get contaminated during construction–he doesn’t seem to worry about that.

  2. If this Aquifer extends under the SCRD then how is Gibsons Aquifer? What gives them the right to deny others the use of this resource?

  3. Not knowing exactly what the SCRD needs to do in order to carry out its proposal, it seems more to the point to share water with them, rather than with a totally unthought through George Hotel, ever changing non-plan. Again,
    the Aquifer needs to remain

  4. So, Gibsons Mayor , Council and Staff are now worried about the Aquifer because the SCRD might want to drill into it to help with their water woes. Why, no mention of threat to the Aquifer by our officials all the way through the” George” approval process. Building this mammoth development right on top of the Aquitard where it is at its thinnest, and the possibility of spreading toxins into the water and the risking of puncturing the aquifer was never on their radar. Now, its is a big deal, and all the concern about a”threat” to the Aquifer is because we might have to share the water. Well I, for one, would far rather share it than risk breaching it or contaminating it. I think that our officials in Gibsons are confused about what the real threat is. Sharing will not be an issue if we blow it.

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