November 25, 2015

St. Mary Lake Integrated Watershed Management Plan

Salt Spring Island Watershed Protection Authority (SSIWPA) has posted its St. Mary Lake Integrated Watershed Management Plan. You can download it from their website at:

St. Mary Lake Aerators – Presentation

Join  us for our next public meeting and presentation on the St. Mary Lake aerators.

When: at 10:00 am on Saturday, September 26, 2015
Where: at the SSI Conservancy’s new building at 265 Blackburn Road, SSI
Agendas and Minutes: are posted on our Upcoming Meetings page.
Presentation: by Maggie Squires: Critical evaluation of internal phosphorus loading & use of artificial aeration to control it in St. Mary Lake.

Explanations of internal phosphorus loading in St. Mary Lake and of the use of artificial aeration to control it involve Iron Wheels and Hydrogen Sulphide, Runoff and Landslides, and a questionable conclusion in a Thesis.

Water Conservation Tips

Looking to the Future

It’s vital for Salt Spring Island to become pro-active in water conservation. In order to have clean, fresh water supplies into the future we all must grow our water conservation ethic. The burden must be lifted from ground and lake ecosystems, they are not limitless.

Create some of your own water supply by adding rainwater catchment to your home and/or business. The importance of rainwater harvesting to the sustainability of our community cannot be overstated. Make water conservation common practise for you and your family. Each of us is responsible to ensure healthy water supplies now and into the future.

MakeEveryDropCountbrochureMake Every Drop Count brochure

In July 2015 with the support of Country Grocer, the SSI Water Preservation Society and a number of individuals, Water Council produced a brochure filled with conservation tips. These tips are posted below as well as PDFs of the brochure and a printable one pager with the same content.

Growing a new water ethic on Salt Spring Island

On Salt Spring Island residents depend on groundwater (wells), surface water (lakes), rainwater catchment or a combination for their potable water. These supplies are only replenished during the rainy season.

Regardless of your water supply, we all need to conserve water!

During the summer months, which coincides with the dry season, the island’s population grows as part-time residents return and tourism increases. The dry season is getting longer, therefore in order to get through it without running out of water, we all need to develop a strong water conservation ethic.

What you can do

The best protection of our water resources comes from the choices you make. Whether you are a full or part-time resident, or a visitor, please consider the following tips.


Bathroom use accounts for about 65 per cent of water used inside the home.

  • Replace older 13 litre toilets, with new 6 litre toilets or dual flush models with a 3 litre option. If you can’t replace your higher volume toilet, put a plastic bottle filled with water in your toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used per flush.
  • Don’t let the tap run while brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your hands or face.
  • Install a low-flow shower head; this can cut water volume in half.
  • Shorten your shower by a minute or two and save up to 500 litres per month—getting a timer may help.
  • Put a bucket under the shower head to collect water while it is getting hot; this can be used in the garden or for chores.
  • If your back is strong, bath water can be put onto the flower garden using a bucket.
  • Don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket or flush it unnecessarily.
  • Choose a low-flow “Energy Star” dishwasher; newer ones cut water use by 25 per cent.
  • Run your dishwasher when it is completely full and use the economy cycle whenever possible.
  • Install a low-flow faucet aerator on your sink; it can cut water use in half.
  • Do not let the faucet run when rinsing dishes or cleaning produce; keep a dishpan to collect water to recycle in your garden (don’t collect greasy water). Leftover water from tea, steaming veggies or soaking dry beans are also beneficial to the garden.
  • When buying a clothes washer purchase a water-saving model. These save up to 40 per cent of the water required.
  • Match the water level to the size of the load.
Outdoor planting, watering and chores
  • Summer outdoor watering can add up to 50 per cent of your water use, Environment Canada studies show that as much as half of outdoor use is wasteful.
  • Create some of your own water supply by installing rainwater catchment. Water for gardening and chores does not need to be drinking water quality, therefore it is not as complicated or as expensive.
  • Review your garden beds. Plants should be grouped by their water requirements, also consider replacing some of your thirstier plants with drought tolerant varieties.
  • Keep your garden beds mulched throughout the growing season with at least 2” of mulch.
    Use low-flow irrigation hose next to the roots of your plants. A little water goes a long way. Reduce evaporation loss by watering early in the day.
  • Don’t use overhead sprinklers because too much water is lost to evaporation.
  • Let your lawn go brown, it’s not dead, just dormant.
  • Leaks can be costly. One drop per second wastes about 10,000 litres of water per year.
  • Repair dripping faucets. Often leaks are caused by a worn out washer that costs pennies to replace.
  • Insulate your hot water heater; you will get hot water faster and avoid wasting water.
  • Check the seals on your toilets. Replacing a leaky seal will save significant amounts of water.
  • If your water district is metered at each household turn off all the water in your home, go check your meter, if it is moving you have a leak in your house or on your property. A slow leak won’t register as quickly as a faster one. Do this regularly.


Bed & Breakfasts, hotels, restaurants all play a role in water conservation.

Accommodation providers:
  • Have this pamphlet readily available in your guest rooms.
  • Put up discreet signs in bathrooms and kitchens that simply say “Please conserve water”.
  • Don’t replace sheets/towels daily for the same guest.
  • Use water efficient bathroom and kitchen fixtures and appliances.
  • Far too much water gets poured down the drain due to the outdated practice of automatically taking diners drinking water. Please ask your guests first if they would like a glass of water. Put a notice in your menu or on your tables stating that your establishment supports water conservation and that you are happy to supply water upon request.
  • Use water efficient bathroom and kitchen fixtures and appliances.

Maintaining your well

  • If you are replacing your well pump, purchase a low flow pump (it will reduce both energy and water consumption).
  • For existing wells, raise the level of your well pump to about 10 feet below the surface. Shallower pumps tend to reduce saline intrusion.
  • Consider installing a douse valve and meter with an automatic shut-off for leak detection.
  • Install a storage tank on your well system to buffer water demand during the dry months of summer.

Water Conservation Forum

Are you worried about water on SSI?


Find out why and what you can do about it.


drought-HERECome to the Water Conservation Forum where you can listen to experts and ask questions.

The Forum will feature a panel of hydrologists and biologists from POLIS, the Ministry of Health, Simon Fraser University as well as a local specialists and resource people.

When: Sunday, July 19, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Meaden Hall at the SSI Legion

If you would like to hear more about the drought conditions, watch the CHEK News interview with Water Quality Specialist Meghan McKee at

Enter to win a door prize:

From SSI Windsor Plywood:

  • A patio drip watering kit, which retails for $40
  • A Melnor daily electronic water timer, which retails for $47

From SSI Slegg Lumber:

  • A hydro rain water timer, which retails for $57

Water Conservations Tips CONTEST

Do you have a great water conservation idea?

Enter our CONTEST to win a water conservation prize generously donated by SSI Windsor Plywood, Mouat’s Home Hardware or SSI Slegg Lumber.

Water Conservation Forum Panelists:

Chief Tom Bremner joined the fire service in 1976 as a Volunteer Firefighter, remaining a volunteer until 1988. In 1999 he joined the career Fire Service, where he still remains today, while never forgetting his foundational roots. In 1995 he became Chief of Chester Fire Dept.; in 1999 he became the First Career Chief of the Amherst Fire Dept.; in 2005 became the First Career Chief for the Truro Fire Service; and in Sept. 2009 became the Chief of the Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue, B.C. He has served on various Provincial Committees including the Zone One Fire Chief Association where he served as a director. He completed courses in Administration and Leadership at Dalhousie University. Tom is proud to have received numerous awards including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He is married with four children.

Sharon Bywater has lived on Salt Spring for 21 years. During her years on SSI she has put her energy as a volunteer into a broad range of projects and issues. Living the life of conservationist, water quality, supply and the impacts of the environment became particular area of interest. In 2004 she became a commissioner for the CRD Highland Water District and continues in that role. As a commissioner she has learned a lot about St. Mary Lake as an ecosystem as well as how complex and expensive it is to treat water to drinking quality standards. She also sat on the CRD Liquid Waste Commission for a number of years. Recently she helped organize the first Water Council Rainwater Harvesting Tour and the Water Fair held in the spring of 2015. Motivated by the desire to lessen the burden on St. Mary Lake and feeling it is wasteful to use water treated to drinking quality for watering the garden and other chores, Sharon began harvesting rainwater. Over the decade her collection system has grown so that for the past two summers, she hasn’t used any first cycle drinking water for the garden. Rainwater takes care of the food garden and very little if any goes to the ornamental garden. During the dry season, she uses a lot of mulch throughout the garden. Chores such as cleaning the deck are done with rainwater early in the spring. Dishpans, jugs and buckets are used to collect water from chores such as dishes to give it a second cycle by watering the ornamental garden with it. Their water district is metered and their water use changes very little from their winter through summer. As a couple they use between 7 and 8 cubic meters every 3 months.

Peter Clarke has worked in irrigation and plumbing sales at Windsor Plywood for the last 12 years gaining knowledge and ideas mostly through his contacts with his clients, the contractors, landscapers and homeowners honing their collecting and conserving skills as they fulfill their goals. Irrigation and water collection continues to be a strong interest. Before joining Windsor, Peter worked on his own as a property caretaker and manager for residential customers.

Shannon Cowan is a PhD botanist and published research scientist: plant taxonomy, phytochemistry, aboriginal health, and sustainable agriculture (agroecology). Since October 2013, Shannon has been Coordinator for SSIWPA—a consortium of government agencies and water district representatives who are responsible to the electorate and the ratepayers for delivery of safe potable water. SSIWPA is mandated to carry out collaborative integrated watershed management on Salt Spring Island. Shannon has been Assistant Professor at UBC in the Food and the Environment program (2002-2008), then Adjunct Professor in the same program (2008-2015); she has taught 25 offerings of several different undergraduate and graduate courses in agriculture and sustainability science and trained six graduate students. She is also a facilitator, has been a farmer, enjoys growing food, is a certified yoga teacher and childbirth educator, and really enjoys wilderness boating and hiking, and learning about the natural world.

Linda Gilkeson earned a PhD in Entomology from McGill University in 1986, then moved to British Columbia to work for Applied Bio-Nomics Ltd., a company that produces biological controls. From 1991 to 2002 she worked for the provincial government, promoting programs to reduce and eliminate pesticide use. She was head of the provincial State of Environment Reporting Unit for the next six years, then the Executive Director of the Salt Spring Island Conservancy until the end of 2011. Linda now devotes her time to writing, teaching and consulting.

Rick Gilleland came to live full time to SSI in 2001 after retiring from an executive Aerospace electronics job. He joined the board of the Mount Belcher Water District before the end of that year. He has taken water system courses and was the certified operator of that system for eight years; he is now Ops adviser. Rick has been a member of Water Council’s board and has also sat on the board of WSOC for a few years; he served on the Auxiliary Planning Commission for over three years and contributed to the OCP in the Groundwater resource area. He helped WSOC expand well water table measurement to several improvement Districts, and took the BC Ministry of Land, Water, Air Drought Management Course in 2005​.

Julie Ann Ishakawa graduated from UBC with a degree in hydrogeology and soil science in 2003 and then completed a master’s program in Water Resources Management from a university in the Netherlands. She worked as a hydrogeologist with a consulting firm in the Lower Mainland for 10 years before joining the Ministry of Environment’s Groundwater and Aquifer Science group last fall.

Meghan McKee joined North Salt Spring Waterworks District in 2013 as the Water Quality Specialist. Prior to that, she worked in a scientific and technical capacity for a number of public sector organizations and has diverse experience in water and wastewater treatment, water quality monitoring and laboratory analysis. Meghan is responsible for the District’s water quality monitoring program and various water management functions. Meghan is an EOCP certified Level 2 Water Treatment Plant Operator and a Level 1 Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator. She has a diploma in Water Quality Technology, a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management and is currently completing a Masters of Public Administration. Meghan has lived on SSI for 10 years and, when not working, stays busy raising three young daughters and coaching soccer.

Michael Nickels and his family make their home at Seven Ravens, where they offer refreshing interactive courses that focus on the positive power of Permaculture and Eco forestry. Practicing permaculture throughout the world has given them an overview of the incredible challenges that face this planet and how to turn problems into flourishing solutions that empower communities. Training those who wish to teach permaculture is their passion. In their courses they teach the interconnectedness of all aspects of a healthy, functioning eco system. Covering forest and nursery management, rainwater harvesting, pond systems, fruit and nut growing, perennial and annual gardens, farm business management, land restoration, value adding, alternative energy and implementing these practices in the developing world.

Rosie Simms is the Water Law & Policy Researcher/Coordinator at the POLIS Water Sustainability Project. In February 2015, she completed her MA at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia, where her research explored histories and interactions between First Nations and water governance in British Columbia. Prior to her MA work, as part of the McGill Panama Field Study Semester, Rosie was involved research and media outreach concerning conflicts between Canadian mining development and Indigenous rights in Panama.

Ron Stepaniuk has worked for the North Salt Spring Waterworks District for over 29 years. Starting as the lone system operator he has progressed through the ranks to become the District Manager. He supervises a staff of 12 and oversees the daily operations of the NSSWD and six other local water systems. Ron has managed many of the districts projects and can often be seen on the side of the road looking at pipes and things.

Deborah Walker is the Supervisor Outreach and Residential Water Conservation Programs for the Capital Regional District (CRD) Environmental Partnerships Division. She has been responsible to promote the wise and efficient use of water in the CRD since the year 2000. Deborah is also the supervisor for residential environmental outreach activities. Her responsibilities include the design, development and delivery of water conservation programs to 350,000 persons in the CRD. Previous to this position she was the Manager for the Water Efficiency Section for the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Ontario for six years. Prior to the position in Ontario, she owned and operated an Energy Efficiency consulting firm that delivered the R-2000 housing program in Nova Scotia on behalf of the Federal Government. Deborah has also provided marketing expertise for both Nova Scotia Power and Ontario Hydro in the residential/commercial energy efficiency sectors. She holds a degree in Consumer Studies from Mount Saint Vincent University and has presented academic papers and provided consultation services for countries such as Chile, Brazil and the United States.

Water Conservation Tips CONTEST

We asked you to share your best water conservation tip in our Conservation Tips Contest.

Entries were judged on practicality, usefulness and cost effectiveness.

And the winners are:

Rod from Chorus Frog Farm for his tip for gardeners and farmers:ChorusFrog1corn-2

Use a high spring water table (if present) to reduce or eliminate irrigation of many plants including tomatoes.

ChorusFrog1tomatoes-2Dig very deep holes until the soil being lifted is saturated or until the water table itself is reached. Place bottom of plant start slightly above water line and back fill as much as safely able. More soil can be back filled as the plant grows, so that the deep holes are eventually level with the surrounding grade. As of July 10 I have not irrigated 400 tomato plants, 300 stalks of corn and dozens of cucumbers and peppers. The water table recedes once the rains stop but plant roots follow the water down a significant depth. I suspect I will have to irrigate them eventually but so far so good. I particularly like this technique because, besides preserving Maxwell Lake and my bottom line, I might not have to set up irrigation or worry about over or under watering.

Sandra for her tip to make it easier to get your household greywater out to the yard:

Sandra submitted a video demonstrating how to easily prime a garden hose to siphon water from the bathtub out the the yard using:

  • A garden hose.
  • ½″ male threaded fitting.
  • A pipe clamp.
  • A removable showerhead.


From SSI Windsor Plywood:

  • A 62-piece raised bed garden irrigation kit, which retails for $70

From Mouat’s Home Hardware:

  • Delta In2ition Chrome Ultimate Two-In-One Showerhead with pause function, which retails for $75

The contest is now closed and entries are being judged. Please attend on Sunday to find out who wins!



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2015 AGM

We are pleased to invite you to attend our Annual General Meeting, which will be followed by our regular business meeting featuring a POLIS Presentation by Savannah Carr-Wilson.

When: at 10:30 am on May 29, 2015
Where: at the Fritz Theatre
Agenda: AGM Agenda  |  Regular Meeting Agenda (click orange links to view PDF documents)
Minutes:  2014 AGM  |  December Meeting
Presentation: The Future of B.C.’s Water: Ensuring the Province Gets its Water Laws Right.

We hope to see you there. This meeting is open to the public, so please feel free to circulate this information.

Savannah Carr-Wilson Bio: Savannah joined the POLIS Water Sustainability Project in February 2015, bringing an interest in water conservation, law, and governance. In April 2015, she completed her law degree at the University of Victoria, where she specialized in environmental law and sustainability. Savannah’s work with the Water Sustainability Project focuses on conducting water policy and law reform research, with a specific focus on supporting the development of regulations under the B.C. Water Sustainability Act. Prior to law school, Savannah completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at Jacobs University Bremen in northern Germany, where she majored in International Politics and History. She has also worked internationally with the non-profit Welthungerhilfe and the Hamburg Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, and within Canada at Ecojustice.

WATER FAIR: March 21-22, 2015

Visit the Documents page to see the Final Report.

Our island has limited water resources, particularly in the summer, so we islanders need to do our bit to conserve/protect it—and that is not as hard as it may seem. There are lots of ways to conserve water—come out to the fair to find out what you can do.

Every Drop Counts Rainwater Harvesting Tour

Saturday, March 21, Noon – 4 pm

Tour rainwater collection systems from the north end to the south end of the island, small to large, simple to high tech.

Download the map and visit these homes on Saturday March 21 to see how islanders are creating some or all of their own water supply. You may visit any or all of these homes between noon and 4 pm, in any order. Homeowners have agreed to offer guided tours of their systems on the hour and half hour starting at noon. If you arrive between tour times feel free to join a tour in progress or wait for the next tour.

Click here to download the MAP  (PDF) or pick a copy up at: the Tourist Information Centre, Natureworks or Windsor Plywood.

Water Draw posterWater Fair at the Farmers Institute

Sunday, March 22, 10 am – 3 pm

Drop by the Farmers Institute to visit the Community and Retail Booths, take in some Workshops, have a bite to eat and enjoy the Entertainment. There something for everyone in the family.


Community and Retail Booths:

artworkGet answers to your questions. There will be information, demonstrations, retail products, DIY ideas, educational info and professional consultants.

  • SSI Water Council
  • SSI Watershed Protection Authority
  • SSI Water Preservation Society
  • Cusheon Lake Stewardship
  • SSI Water Education & Learners
  • SSI Conservancy
  • Georgia Strait Alliance
  • SSI Transition
  • Windsor Plywood
  • Slegg Lumber
  • Capital Regional District
  • Saltspring Water Co.
  • Ganges Harbour Restoration
  • North Salt Spring Water District
  • Seven Ravens Permaculture Institute
  • Gulf Islands Rainwater Harvesting & Irrigation
  • Coast Alive Recreational and Ecological Services

Workshop schedule:

10:30 am:    Sweet water: Promoting ecosystem vitality and resilience in a changing world. Introduction to the marvelous world of the water molecule and the role of water in world climate; brief explanation of expected shifts in water availability in the Southern Gulf Islands as a result of climate change; plus, controlling invasive plants, promoting native plants, and planting to reduce wildfire risk. Presented by: Chris Drake.

11:00 am:    Designing Irrigation Systems for SSI Homes & Gardens. Design for efficiency; water budget and scheduling; water saving Solutions/Retro-fitting inefficient systems. Presented by: Matt Nowell.

11:30 am:    How to Grow More Food Using Less Water. Mulching; just the right amount of water in the veggie garden and orchard; optimizing irrigation; food plants on a low water budget. Presented by: Linda Gilkeson.

1:00 pm:    Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC: What We Do. The Partnership aims to achieve water sustainability in BC through recognition of individual water values, water choices, and water behaviours, and by inspiring and supporting groups to work towards a future without water shortages. Presented by: Tim Pringle.

1:30 pm:    The Art of Swale Construction & Practice of Permaculture. Video overview of project spreading the practice of permaculture in East Africa; outdoor demonstration of swale construction- a permaculture technique for increasing garden and farm productivity. Presented by: Michael Nickels.


KidZone Lineup:

10 am – 3 pm:    Throughout the day

  • Water Poetry Wall and KidColour Table with water-themed activity book pages, designed by local Children’s Book Illustrator, Aidan Cassie for the “Salt Spring Island Activity Book” (Little Red Schoolhouse publication), reprinted with permission.
  • There will be Water Play and Discovery elements for families as well. Still to be determined.
  • Water Face Painting station.

10:30 am:   Elizabeth Buchanan (aka Joan Buchanan)

11:15 am and 1:30 pm: Ta Daa Lady at the Water Fair KidZone presents…. Interactive Storytelling inside a Salmon with the Nylon Zoo -Water Dancing in costume Dress Up KidZParade!!

12:30 pm:   Dance and Singalong with Ta Daa & Stumpy the Puppet!

Ta Daa Lady (aka Angela Brown):Wiab insal

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA is a B.C. based artist who regularly graces stages and schools, fairs and festivals throughout the Lower Mainland. She is also an International stage performer, owner and operator of the Nylon Zoo, a storyteller, dancer and puppeteer with West Coast Chamber Music, a member of Historical Performance Ensemble (historical dance, music, costume and Commedia dell’Arte) and teaches through Learning Trough the Arts and Arts Starts in the Classroom.


Main Stage Lineup:

12 noon:   EcoDiva (Nomi Lyonns): Welcome to the Event and EcoDiva Water Performance!

12:30 pm:   Ta Daa Lady: Singalong with Stumpy the Puppet!

2:00 pm:   Kim Tebbutt: Water Blessing inspired by Dr. Masaru Emoto. Kim is called to leadership for healing and connecting through ceremony. Kim organizes monthly Water Ceremonies all over Salt Spring Island in beautiful watery locations on the 11th of each month at noon.

2:15 pm:   Naomi Jason and Friends: Water Dance


EcoDiva (Nomi Lyonns):

NomiGrowing up on Saltspring, Nomi connects strongly to all things eco. She volunteers for Cusheon Lake Stewardship, Transition Salt Spring and Climate Action Council. As a performer, she uses her skills to playfully highlight big scarey issues of our times, as a yoga instructor she offers tools to help deal with them.





Water Blessing by Kim Tebbutt:
Storytelling with Elizabeth Buchanan:

Elizabeth is the author of four children’s books and has been storytelling for 27 years. She is passionate about the environment, and has been an activist since age 13. Water is central to her life: she practices permaculture and has a water recycling system for her home and gardens. In Education, Elizabeth has offered teaching and professional development from preschool level to post-graduate level, and teacher in-service learning. Her vitae includes poetry and short stories for news periodicals.

Naomi & friends:

Naomi Jason is passionately dedicated to cultivating healthy embodiment and regenerative living practices for all ages through dance, qigong, yoga, permaculture and community building.  She is a performance artist, founder of Dance Temple, visionary for Imaginelle and inspires acceptance, grace and inclusivity in all she does.

Naomi performs “The Last River:  a song for the children,” by local composer and pianist Suzanne Gay (see her on Facebook). This music was inspired by a dream about the Last River On Earth, and musically describes the water cycle, with the main body of the piece describing the river.  Also joining Naomi and Suzanne in this incredible performance are Lesley Smith, and Ananda Sinclair. Lesley Smith is a dancer, choreographer and yogi who brings authenticity and reverence to her craft. She considers creation and performance an instrument of universal prayer. Ananda is a extraordinary vocalist, and instrumentalist who taps into the energy of a live audience and provides incredible presence with his fluid melodies.

The piece is co-choreographed by Naomi and Lesley. Music composed by Suzy and accompanied by Ananda Sinclair.

Food Vendors:

Lunch, coffee, water, and local bites by Hips and Haws, Ethos and Salt Spring Water Co.

Find Ethos on Facebook.








This event is a collaboration between:

waterfairlogos and we acknowledge the financial assistance of the Province of British Columbia:




and the generous support of our local


A big thank you goes out to all the volunteers who made this happen!

If you would like to volunteer an hour or two to help out with the event, please contact Maxine at

SSIWPA Technical Advisory Committee Seeks New Volunteer Member

For more info visit: SSIWPA

SFU Research Presentation in January

SSI Water Council Society, in partnership with Islands Trust, supported the thesis work of Simon Fraser University graduate student Isabelle Larocque focussing on “The Hydrogeology of Salt Spring Island” under the supervision of Dr. Diana Allen.

We are pleased to invite you to attend a public meeting of the Water Council Society for an account of finished and future work presented by Professor Allen and her research team.

When: at 2 pm on January 27, 2015
at the Fritz Theatre.

We hope to see you there. This meeting is open to the public, so please feel free to circulate this information.

Link to: Thesis summary by Dr. Diana Allen (PDF)

Thesis précis:

Isabelle Larocque’s 255 page thesis, with 34 tables and 85 figures, focusses on assessing the sensitivity of our island coastal aquifer to stressors that include sea level rise, changes in precipitation, and development related to pumping from wells. This work is a continuation of research by Dr. Allen into the groundwater hydrology of the Gulf Islands. The research gives us new quantitative data on which to base planning for future demands on our water resource. Findings from the thesis work include:

  • The aquifer on Salt Spring Island consists of a network of fractures in sedimentary rocks of the Nanaimo Group in the north part of the island and fractures in older granitic, volcanic, and sedimentary rocks in the south part of the island.
  • Recharge of the groundwater is entirely through precipitation and the chemistry of the water is the result of chemical interaction between the rocks and the water. Ion exchange reactions involving sodium and calcium dominate in the Nanaimo rocks, but not in the older rocks of the south end.
  • Discharge of the precipitation is achieved by surface runoff, evaporation, subsurface flow of groundwater to the sea, and by pumping. The overall distribution of groundwater flow is outlined from an analysis of water table data from wells and shows island-scale groundwater and flow directions. These are controlled mainly by topography. Future studies of the useable quantity of water on the island will be aided by this island-scale analysis.
  • Pump tests on Salt Spring Island are analysed, including results from other Gulf Islands and combined with analysis of well responses to tidal fluctuations to determine representative hydraulic properties of the aquifer. Average hydraulic properties are summarised and it is interesting that the properties on Salt Spring Island are similar to those on the other islands and that they are not widely different for the different rock types. This suggests that properties derived for Salt Spring Island may be of wide application and that future hydrologic modelling will be a promising avenue to pursue. The tables of data constitute a valuable resource for future work.
  • The effect of tidal variation on groundwater flow was studied using the Swan Point area near Booth Canal and a combination of numerical modelling and calibration from existing well data. An interesting and unexpected result has been that the salt-fresh interface is steep in this area of high topographic relief but that strong pumping may result in salt intrusion. Areas of low topographic relief may still have a shallow saltwater lens at depth.

In summary, the research provides solid new data on the hydrologic properties of Salt Spring Island aquifers, it provides an island-wide model of the general behaviour of the island’s groundwater, and assesses the potential future effects of sea level rise. The fresh-salt interface is shown to be steep in areas of high topographic relief and is expected to be shallow in areas of low relief.

The Water Council Society is grateful to the LTC for their support of this research and particularly grateful to Professor Allen for her continuing work in the Gulf Islands and on Salt Spring Island particularly, as well as the Province of British Columbia.