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2003 Water

Sunshine Coast Regional District, British Columbia

Optimizing the (Water Supply) Value Chain: 10-Year Master Plan

Population: 25,950

Even with a temperate climate and abundant annual rainfall, the Sunshine Coast Regional District experiences challenges maintaining an adequate supply of potable water for its community throughout the year. Water shortages can occur when the supply reservoir is depleted, the treatment plant is unable to keep up, or simply when demand for water is too high. The Regional District's 10-year master plan, updated annually, is a strategy that strengthens the water supply chain. Among its policies and actions, the Regional District is upgrading its water treatment and distribution systems and has implemented a wide ranging water conservation program that includes low flow toilets, leak detection, and xeriscaping programs. Plans are also being made to implement a universal metering program, a grey-water reuse initiative, and an upgrading of its entire supervisory control and data acquisition system.


The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) comprises five electoral areas and three municipal governments, serving a population of about 26,000.The SCRD's potable water supply comes from two mountain lakes, Chapman Lake and Edwards Lake, which were created when dams were constructed within the Chapman watershed.

Year round precipitation averages about 104 centimetres, but as little as 50 millimetres of rain can fall during an average summer. The SCRD's average daily water usage per capita is 650 litres - almost 300 litres above the national average - and the demand for water is highest during the summer months.

The SCRD's long-term vision is to create a sustainable way of life through a strategic planning process. The water strategies developed by the infrastructure services department focus on demand side management issues, make maximum use of the SCRD's existing infrastructure, and aim to overcome the 'weak links' in the water supply chain.


  • Reduction of water consumption by 20 per cent, through metering and other conservation initiatives, will defer upgrading of the new water treatment plant by approximately 10 to 12 years. Without it, new expansions to most major components of the system would have been necessary within five to seven years and the treatment of larger volumes of water would have resulted in increased use of chemicals.
  • The SCRD stands to gain $1.8 million in capital deferral as a direct result of its decision not to build a dam.
  • Watershed protection will improve raw water quality, and the focus on water conservation will minimize environmental impact through reduced wastewater discharge into the environment.
  • The restructured master plan provides staff with enhanced information to prepare their capital and operating budgets.
  • Customers enjoy a better level of service and higher water quality.

Lessons Learned

  • Input from stakeholders is crucial to develop common goals and expectations. Workshops with the public, council, and staff to discuss capital and financial planning led to acceptance of the treatment plant concept and the water rate increases.
  • Effective staff communication to the public is critical. "Our staff includes an operations co-ordinator, a utilities supervisor, two technicians, and me," said Mr. Lee. "It's a small group, but when we see an opportunity, whether it's a workshop or a new study or getting the public involved in an open house, we do it."
  • Organizational productivity must be continuously improved. "We have a labour management committee that agreed to pursue a performance model and staff has been very receptive," Mr. Lee explained. "The concepts build a high performance organization that focuses on organizational values and how we deal with customers and with each other."
  • Third-party consultants are useful for technical support. The SCRD hired a consultant to develop various technical scenarios in long range system planning.

Partners and Collaboration


  • SCRD's Infrastructure and Financial Services Departments


  • Sechelt Indian Band
  • Community Associations
  • Provincial Agencies
Page Updated: 21/12/2015