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Chilliwack's water supply threatened by overdevelopment

The Elephant In The Room

Written by Norm Smith, Mayoral Candidate for the Save Chilliwack Citizens Alliance.

l have received phone calls and emails recently from residents who are questioning the validity of my position, stated on page one of the Save Chilliwack website, that we are facing a water crisis due to runaway growth, and my position that we cannot sustain our official community plan without depleting the Sardis-Vedder Aquifer.It is appropriate to issue a press release regarding the facts concerning our City's dwindling water supply, and the water crisis we are facing if Chilliwack continues with it's pro-growth "Official Comunity Plan".

I stand by these assertions, and I cite as evidence information published on the City of Chilliwack's official website.

The city admits "We are approaching our limit for water withdrawal from the Sardis-Vedder aquifer and will have to seek out new sources of water for the future. These new sources will be more expensive to develop and operate and will not be the same quality as the Sardis-Vedder aquifer."
www.chilliwack.com/main/page.cfm?id=1445

Elk Creek was generally viewed as our city's "backup water supply" but it is already being diverted to accomodate the vast commercial and residential development plans that have already started on our Eastern Hillsides.

It is now apparent that this unreliable source is going to be stressed out sooner rather than later. Elk Creek dries up in the summer and freezes up in the winter.

The city plans to divert the Sardis-Vedder Aquifer to accomodate the Eastern Hillside developers. This will be the straw that breaks the back of our aquifer and triggers the water crisis.
Reference: http://www.chilliwack.com/main/attachments/files/774/Appendix_B2.pdf (see 3.8)

This is a bad deal for Chiliwack residents because the cost of these massive water projects would be better spent on "quality of life infrastructure" such as a network of bicycle and pedestrian trails and an improved hybrid bus service. The whole mess is a direct result of Chilliwack's "pro-growth" strategy.

The whole situation is a huge tragedy, as our Sardis-Vedder aquifer has won several contests and won the best drinking water in Canada contest two years. It is rare to have a pristine water source that requires no chlorination. It should have been protected from overdevelopment, and we need to protect what is left.

The whole thing could probably have been prevented if City Hall had been promoting a "pro-infrastructure strategy" instead of a pro-growth strategy. The needs of Chilliwack residents must come ahead of the interests of developers.

The continued promotion of growth in our city is an unsustainable blueprint for disaster. We need to change direction.

Norm Smith
Mayoral Candidate and Co-founder
Save Chilliwack Citizens Alliance
savechilliwack.ca

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