Q: What is a water system?
A: A water system is defined under the Drinking Water Protection Act as a distribution system that provides potable water to two or more hook-ups (buildings). In the Comox Valley, there are nine water systems, seven of which are managed by local governments and two that are privately run.
Public systems are:
- Courtenay Comox Water System ( providing for Courtenay, Comox, Royston for maintenance, Black Creek/ Oyster River, parts of Denman Island)
- Cumberland Water System (providing for Cumberland, Royston for supply only)
- Union Bay Water System (providing for Union Bay, Buckley Bay)
- Sandwick Water System (providing for Sandwick area)
- Ship’s Point Water System
- Fanny Bay Water System
- Graham Lake Water System (providing for subdivision on East Road; part of the CVRD) local water service area
Private systems are:
- Mount Washington Water System
- Saratoga Beach Water System
In addition, there are hundreds of wells on Denman Island, Hornby Island, areas of Fanny Bay, Merville, Dove Creek, Point Holmes and Plateau Road.
Q: Given that we have experienced the most severe water restrictions ever seen in the Comox Valley, what long-term strategies could be done to reduce water consumption?
A: A primarily unmetered system makes it difficult to accurately measure the amount of water actually being utilized. Meters help to pinpoint the location(s) of water leaks, also referred to as ‘unaccounted for water’. A factor in the number and severity of leaks on any given system partially depends on the age and material type of the pipes; unaccounted for water ranges from 6% to over 50% of the water consumption rate (World Bank data).
A long-term strategy to reduce water consumption would be to get an accurate reading of the water being consumed per sector and geographic area. A prioritized list based on consumption should be drafted with specific targets for reducing consumption. In some cases, it may be public education that is the most beneficial while in other cases it may be leak repair that will lead to the most efficiency in reduced consumption rates. The Comox Valley water system is largely unmetered, although, this has been slowly changing. The Comox Valley Regional District has implemented a mandatory metering program for certain areas in their water service: Arden, England Road, Greaves Crescent, Marsden/ Camco and the local water service areas of Royston and Black Creek/ Oyster River. To date, 1,600 meters have been installed under this program. Additionally, the Town of Comox has implemented a water installation program. The Comox Valley Regional District manages distribution of potable water to over 15,000 hook-ups.