Ucluelet is looking at Kennedy Lake as a possible water source to cater to its growing community and booming tourism economy.
The district has hired a consulting company to conduct water testing at Kennedy Lake and is starting to look at where water could be pumped, according to Ucluelet mayor Dianne St. Jacques.
“You don’t wait until it’s a problem, you try and stay ahead of it,” she said. “We are certainly moving forward in the future, we hope to do it as a region but, for now, we’re taking the steps to start it.”
She noted Ucluelet has run into water restrictions the past few summers, is a growing community and has struggled with water discolouration from its Lost Shoe Creek aquifer.
“The minerals in the water, the iron and the manganese, are super hard to filter out,” she said. “There’s some challenges there. There is a huge cost to the filtration systems and there’s lots of good reasons to go to the most natural source, which is untouched Kennedy Lake. Having said that, there is a lot of challenges with the lake as well because it’s an open water source. There’s a lot of work to be done but we’re definitely starting down the road.”
Ucluelet’s Chief Administrative Officer Mark Boysen said the work will give the district a clearer picture on what a water treatment facility at Kennedy Lake would look like, what it would cost and where possible funding sources could be found.
“What we want to do is be able to be looking ahead about when we think we’re going to have potential growth coming from in our community and increased tourism is a part of that,” he said. “If we keep getting more people coming to our community, we’re going to do more things to address our water supply.”
He noted a rough estimated cost for a water facility at Kennedy Lake is sitting around $12.5 million, but the work being done now will provide a more accurate number to consider.
“Costs tend not to go down in construction these days. So, we want to improve the accuracy of what that number is for us to consider it in our big picture decision-making,” he said.
He added Ucluelet has made neighbouring First Nations and Tofino aware of the work they’re doing, but official conversations around potential partnerships have not yet occurred.
During the public question period of Feb. 13’s regular council meeting in Tofino, The Westerly News asked if Tofino has any interest in investigating Kennedy Lake as a potential water source.
“Investigating a new water source is something that’s on the horizon potentially one day but i dont think we have any time estimates for when that will be,” responded mayor Josie Osborne. “If Ucluelet discovers some interesting things and wants to approach Tofino, we’d be all ears.”