Hawes asks this question: If communities such as Mission are bumping up against Stage 4 water restrictions this year

EDITORIAL: Long-term thinking

It's time to plan for a sufficient water supply, especially as community populations expand.

Mayor Randy Hawes makes an excellent point about water, as residents of Mission and most parts of B.C. live through some of the driest conditions in memory.

Hawes asks this question: If communities such as Mission are bumping up against Stage 4 water restrictions this year,  how will any of them ever be able to supply enough water to their residents when the population is much larger in the future?

Virtually every planner, public agency and citizen is predicting such a population gain.

Hawes says it’s time for some serious long-term planning for a sufficient water supply, not just for Mission and Abbotsford, who currently share water resources, but for the entire Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley region.

He told Mission council Tuesday that Harrison Lake is one of the best potential sources. The lake is deep, clear and cold. Earlier studies showed that there could be an intake point near Echo Island, at a depth of some 350 feet, which would likely be far below any potential source of contamination.

Hawes said that millions of people could be supplied from the lake, which has a watershed of 9,000 square kilometres.

Metro Vancouver needs to be part of any long-term planning effort, he says, as it is likely to exhaust its water supply in the future, given the large number of new residents expected over the next 30 to 50 years. While the Metro supply from two North Vancouver reservoirs and Coquitlam Lake is abundant at present, the three watersheds combined are much smaller than the Harrison Lake watershed.

As B.C. residents are learning this year, there is plenty of water here, but it is not always abundant when it is most needed. Long-term planning for a steady and secure supply of water is one of the most vital actions that any level of government can take to prepare for the future.