Chilliwack boasts an award-winning water source with the underground Sardis-Vedder Aquifer.
But The Progress wondered precisely how the deep reservoir is holding up, especially when there are extreme hot weather conditions in place like there are now, with more in the forecast.
City officials responded to explain they are carefully monitoring any hot weather impacts on the Sardis-Vedder aquifer, which is located north of the Vedder River in Sardis and extends to Highway 1, and out to the Abbotsford border to the west, and to Prest Road to the east.
Right now there are no impacts in evidence, according to engineering staff.
Water levels typically dip in summertime anyway but the levels don’t vacillate in response to heat waves of several days, said staff. Under the layers of rock, sand and gravel, it would take months of prolonged heat to reduce reservoir levels to any substantial degree.
If they do see levels of concern, they’ll immediately do what they can to reduce water consumption levels.
There are lawn watering restrictions in effect, with no plans right now for fining anyone not in compliance. They will post a notice at the residence if there is evidence of watering on the wrong day, and staff will respond to tips about possible water misuse.
City staff are reaching out to the neighbourhood, rather than exacting strict enforcement with penalties, in order to increase the education levels, and to make it clear it’s not necessary to water four times a week.
They’re currently moving to initiate a study on the low flows in the Chilliwack-Vedder river. Staff is planning to bring in the consultant early to conduct the work to ensure the city’s future water source is sustainable.
Also they’ll scope out Stage 2, to answer the question of what can be done if more water is extracted than can be sustained.
1. What factors have an impact on water levels?
“The water level of the aquifer is impacted by the amount of water available for recharge and the amount of water taken by the city and other water users. Typically in the summer there is a reduction in aquifer level and then it returns to maximum level in the fall. Staff will closely monitor aquifer levels and Vedder River levels as the summer progresses. Their SCADA system makes it possible to monitor these levels on a full-time basis from the operations department.”
2. Does the heat wave make watering restrictions more important?
“During hot dry summers it is important to balance the city’s needs for water with the habitat needs of local creeks and rivers. The watering restrictions are a critical component of the city’s efforts to keep Chilliwack’s water demands at sustainable levels.”
4. Is there anything the city does to minimize our impact on our airshed?
“City officials have been concerned about the airshed for some time. There is an anti-idling policy in effect for municipal vehicles and they’ve taken steps to reduce energy use (and emissions) from facilities through initiatives such as the landfill gas capture system, boiler upgrades at the WWTP, and enhancing the fleet with the acquisition of an electric car. Chilliwack is also active in wider airshed improvement programs by partnering with agriculture and through supporting the Fraser Valley Regional District’s opposition of the Metro Vancouver incinerator.”