Information is a powerful thing.
How it is wielded can be extremely important.
The City of Abbotsford’s water supply is a prime example.
There is a virtual river of information surrounding this issue, with water usage data key among all the statistics.
It is the latter which has become the focus for many residents, in part due to the claims of opponents of the proposed public-private partnership, and a number of council candidates, some of whom are in the same camp.
The majority of the city’s figures originate from master water plan reports, prepared by engineers and other experts.
They have taken existing data, such as daily average water consumption in the city and peak usage periods, as well as population growth trends and estimates, and analyzed those to arrive at future need projections.
The conclusion of the 2010 AECOM water plan was the potential of a water shortage by 2016 during peak periods, based on levels hit during very hot summer months in recent years.
It is true that water consumption has decreased over the past four years, largely due to cooler weather, and increased watering restrictions during hot periods.
However, there is no guarantee that such a climate trend will continue, while it is a solid fact that population growth in Abbotsford will continue to climb, as will business and industrial water consumption.
Long-term water use projections must be based on worst-case scenarios, with major contingencies built in to guard against future water shortages.
Disagree with the public-private partnership, if you wish. Ask for options, if you feel inclined.
But it is dangerously simplistic to look at the past few years, and conclude that the city is in fine shape for water for another decade or more.
That’s not planning, that’s just hoping.