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.

Just Posted

Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP looking for missing 20-year-old woman

Police say Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months

(Maps.Chilliwack.com)
RCMP seek dash-cam footage after Chilliwack road rage incident

Male driving a black pickup stopped and allegedly threatened to punch another driver

Deepak Sharma of Abbotsford has been convicted of the sexual assault of one of his cab passengers in West Vancouver in January 2019.
Former Abbotsford Hindu temple president convicted of sexual assault

Deepak Sharma assaulted a female passenger when he was a cab driver

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Agassiz toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Woody’s RV World hosts a grand opening for its brand-new Abbotsford location on Saturday. (YouTube)
Woody’s RV World hosts Abbotsford grand opening on Saturday

First-ever B.C. location for successful RV chain, located on Marshall Road

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Most Read