Candidate, city can’t agree on water projections

The City of Abbotsford has over-projected its future water needs, claims council candidate Henry Braun. P3 water Stave Lake

The City of Abbotsford has over-projected its future water needs, claims council candidate Henry Braun.

Other candidates have also publicly questioned city hall’s water-use estimates.

However, city officials say Braun has limited his conclusions, without taking into account key factors affecting water use.

Braun points out that water consumption over the past five years has dropped.

“It appears that the city has been using inflated projections, rather than actual usage, for the years of 2007 through 2011.”

The trend in peak water use has been downward since 2007. Braun said average daily use has also decreased by 10 per cent over the last four years.

In 2007, the city’s peak usage was 139.2 million litres in a day (MLD). In 2008 it dropped to 119.8 MLD, went to 126.6 in 2009, 106.8 in 2010 and last year it was 93.1.

The average daily use has dropped from 78.2 MLD in 2007 to 70.6 MLD as of Sept. 30, 2011.

Braun said consumption has gone down “in spite of the fact our population has grown in these four years and new business has been added.”

The city’s information campaign regarding the need for a new water supply and treatment centre at Stave Lake shows a projected steady increase in usage that could surpass supply by 2016.

Jim Gordon, Abbotsford’s general manager of engineering and regional utilities, said he isn’t arguing with Braun’s figures; in fact, they are available on the city’s website.

However, he does have some concerns with the interpretation.

“If you just look at the five figures, it appears as though the usage has gone down. But there are a lot of other factors at play … You don’t plan a water system on five points of data,” said Gordon.

He said 2011 was an abnormally cool year, which played a huge role in keeping consumption down, as did an unpopular watering ban in 2010.

“We can’t bet that Mother Nature will give us cool Julys every year … probability is, we are going to have another hot July, like we did in 2007, when our water use came very close to our capacity.”

He said three or four days of 35-degree weather in mid-July would have a “dramatic” effect on consumption, which could easily surpass the 139 MLD mark reached in 2007, despite the recent reductions.

“Engineers can’t say it will probably be okay; it absolutely has to be okay.”

Gordon said the projections are based on a worst-case scenario.

“They have to be.”

July appears to be a key month for water use. Gordon said higher temperatures in August and September, don’t create the same demand

“My point is, you can’t just look at a few figures, which is why we hire the consultants to do the master plans .. you need a more comprehensive study … We can’t be hoping we have enough water, we have to know.”

He said five years is a “pretty small snapshot” and growth and consumpion trends need to be examined for 10 or 20 years.

But Braun feels the projections will confuse some voters.

“The numbers used by the city have had the effect of scaring some people into thinking that if they don’t vote yes, we will run out of water very soon,” said Braun.

Braun believes water usage in 2012 will drop again, “because water conservation hasn’t kicked in yet.”

Two-tiered billing and a higher awareness of the city’s need for water will cause people to conserve even more, he said.

Braun does agree with the city that a steady rise in water use will occur due to population and business growth.

“But that trajectory is entirely different from what the city is claiming.”

By comparing the peak usage of the past few years, Braun has concluded that the present water system could be sufficient until 2020 and beyond.

“That gives us time to look at some alternatives.”

City manager Frank Pizzuto said people can’t look at a few years and decide things are fine.

“Are you going to gamble on the weather and say, for the last three years we’ve had good weather so we’re going to be okay?

“Or are you going to rely on extensive studies?

“I believe that water, unlike other commodities, needs to be available 100 per cent of the time for residents and business. Anything less is unacceptable,” Pizzuto said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kevin Fowler of Abbotsford won almost $57,000 in the Lotto 6/49 drawn from Aug. 15. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford man wins almost $57K in Lotto 6/49

Kevin Fowler matches five out of six numbers, using dog’s age and other numbers

A testing kit can determine the levels of radon in a home. Abbotsford participated in the 2019 100 Radon Test Kit Challenge, and results were released on Oct. 29, 2020. (Image by TakeActionOnRadon from Pixabay)
11 Abbotsford homes had unsafe radon levels following testing

Total of 82 houses tested as part of 100 Radon Test Kit Challenge

Everett Silvertips’ Gage Gonclaves fights with Spokane Chiefs’ Filip Kral for the puck during the game on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Mission’s Gage Goncalves invited to Hockey Canada’s World Juniors selection camp

Goncalves was recently drafted to the NHL in the 2nd round by the Tampa Bay Lightning

Poppy donation boxes will be in place at businesses and organizations across Abbotsford for the 2020 Royal Canadian Legion poppy campaign. (Black Press photo)
In-person poppy locations down, collection boxes increase in Abbotsford

2020 Royal Canadian Legion campaign impacted by COVID-19 pandemic

The former Matsqui-Sumas-Hospital lands are being returned to the Matsqui First Nation. (Submitted)
Abbotsford lands returned to Matsqui First Nation

Nine acres of MSA Hospital lands set to be redeveloped in the coming years

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)
COVID-19 ‘disproportionately’ affecting Fraser Health: Henry

Health region has about 75 per cent of B.C.’s active cases

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Most Read