About 70 people turned out at a meeting to discuss various options to the declining lake levels at 108 Mile Ranch on Oct. 24.
Cariboo Regional District (CRD) environmental services manager Mitch Minchau presented the crowd with various potential solutions, along with Bill Klopp, water authorizations and permits section head for Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Operations (MFLNRO).
MFLNRO groundwater engineer Kevin Bennett was also present to field questions for concerned residents, and CRD Area G Director Al Richmond was on hand to solicit feedback.
Minchau and Klopp presented the results of a water balance study to the group of concerned area residents, as well as an overview of surface water licences and some suggested water conservation measures.
The “first and foremost” message passed along is promoting water conservation, Minchau says, and residents were encouraged to begin these practices immediately.
“At this time our assessment indicates that good water conservation practices should be sufficient to address the lake level issue.”
Related discussions included sprinkling restrictions, installing low-flow toilets and the potential application of water usage audits and water meters.
While more studies are needed for some of the other options presented, Minchau explains that water licences were reviewed, such as the one held by the 108 Golf Resort, which currently draws from the lake for irrigation.
Ideas were put forward in the presentation for possible alternative sources for golf course watering, including utilizing an existing well at 106 Mile, which has trace amounts of arsenic in the water that may not be a problem for the grass.
Like some other options discussed, this would require environmental assessment testing, but the option could be pursued along with other related aspects for a potential irrigation source.
Richmond says he asked for feedback on alternate water sources, and notes no hands or objections were raised against using taxpayer funds to assess water and study potential for the 106 Mile well.
Minchau says an option for drilling a well near the community’s north boundary aquifer met with opposition from most of people in attendance, who indicated drinking water should be conserved.
“The conclusion at the meeting was that residents didn’t want to see us using potable water for irrigation or for elevating the lake levels.”
However, 108 Mile ranch resident Neil Duncan was at the meeting and says he favours the idea of drilling a north boundary well and pumping it into the lake.
He explains it was difficult for him to hear everything being said at the large meeting, but he didn’t note anything being voiced by residents against pumping fresh potable water into the lake.
“I didn’t get that gathering. Maybe somebody did object, but I don’t think there was a general discussion.
“There were no real questions, as I heard them, to do with the drilling of a well in the north aquifer.”
However, Minchau says there definitely was an informal poll at the meeting regarding Richmond’s request for feedback on the options for the two different wells.
“By a show of hands, I would say that roughly 80 per cent wanted to ensure that potable water was not pumped into the lake, and that funds from the 108 Water Operating budget could be used for undertaking an environmental assessment associated with use of the 106 well water on golf course lands.”
Says Richmond: “I said, ‘Does everybody agree with that?’ And, nobody said we’re opposed – not a soul – including Mr. [Neil] Duncan.”
Minchau stresses that, beyond conservation, all the measures reviewed are strictly for future consideration, if needed.
“However, we do need to improve our understanding of the aquifer in order to be more definitive on the most appropriate corrective measures.
“We are in the process of expanding the monitoring program at this time.”