The Water Challenge in the Comox Valley: Balancing competing needs



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In July 2007, the Province of British Columbia divided the former Comox-Strathcona Regional District into two jurisdictions, namely: Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD); and Strathcona Regional District. At the same time, the Province mandated that the CVRD develop two strategies, namely:

“The Comox Valley is a desirable place in which to live. This is why the findings of the Regional Growth Strategy and Comox Valley Sustainability Strategy are so important Kevin lorette - cvrd (120p)for everyone to understand. They provide the backdrop for the Regional Water Supply Strategy,” states Kevin Lorette, General Manager of the CVRD Property Services Branch.

“Yet, at the end of the day, water is the underpinning of the community; and this is why an integrated watershed approach to settlement and land development is essential for the Comox Valley.”

Nature of the Water Challenge

“From the water efficiency perspective, we have to balance the need to save money while providing capacity for continued population growth. At the same time, we also have to balance technical and governance issues.”

Scope of Integration

According to Kevin Lorette, a desired outcome in developing a comprehensive Comox Valley Regional Water Supply Strategy is to address and integrate these four issues as they specifically relate to the Comox Lake system:

  • Source Quality & Watershed Protection
  • Support Capacity
  • Infrastructure Upgrading
  • Financing & Implementation

In addition, the regional strategy is addressing a fifth issue – that is, source identification and the question of whether there are viable alternatives and/or supplements to Comox Lake.

“Each of these issues has its own set of complexities, and we need to identify and Mike zbarsky (90p) - comox valley regional districtunderstand the implicit and/or explicit synergies that will achieve their integration. Our immediate challenge is managing expectations during a period when the Regional water supply strategy is underway,” elaborates Michael Zbarsky, CVRD Engineering Analyst.


Issues within Issues

“Also, there are issues within the issues, and they cross over – for example, metering and efficiency go hand-in-hand, and both also have a bearing on population-support capacity, water treatment and infrastructure financing.”
“It seems like everyone wants answers right now to questions that are still being explored or investigated. The net effect is to complicate how we move forward during this transition period,” concludes Michael Zbarsky.


Understanding the Context

To learn more about the context for watershed protection, population-support capacity, infrastructure upgrading and implementation issues in the Comox Valley, click on A Regional Perspective on Water Supply in the Comox Valley.

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Posted November 2009