Why Not Dusty Road?

Everybody wants a simple and easy solution to the Sunshine Coast’s water supply problem, so whenever folks talk about water, a few “obvious” fixes keep coming up. Three of the popular solutions are a well at Dusty Road, and water piped in from Sakinaw Lake or Clowhom Lake.

The short answer is that if there really was a simple, easy solution, it would have been done by now. What’s more, every “obvious” solution has been looked at multiple times over the years.

So, about Dusty Road. 
The SCRD drilled a test well at Dusty Road (that’s the road going up to the garbage dump) in 2018. It produced a high volume of water, but when staff evaluated the risks associated with the project, they recommended against it. Here’s why.

  • It’s in an unconfined aquifer, which means it is subject to possible contamination from surface pollutants
  • It’s adjacent to a deep tailings pond at the LeHigh gravel mine site—a mine site that is very large and active expanding.
  • It’s also directly down hill from a sewage treatment plant that’s been operating for decades
  • And it’s also directly down hill from our unlined landfill where we’ve been burying garbage since the 1980s
  • Finally, it’s probable that this aquifer is hydrologically connected to Chapman Creek. If that’s true, it’s not a new water supply, it’s the same water, and we could actually be draining water away from Chapman Creek.

A lengthy discussion of Dusty Road took place at the Oct. 14, 2021 board meeting. The staff report on Dusty Road starts at 18:25.

Regarding Sakinaw and Clowhom Lakes, there’s lots of water in both locations, the only real question is cost. Pipelines, pumping, and water treatment do not come cheap, and folks are already complaining about utility rates and taxes. But all possible sources will be explored when we do long term water supply planning.

Incidentally, at the Inter-Government Water Summit on Jan. 16, 2023, Steven Feschuk of the Sechelt Nation, reminded us that water supply is not a new issue for Sechelt.

Posted by Donna