Water Stewardship Information Sources

Citation Mass, C and Porter-Bopp, S. 2010. A soft path strategy for Salt Spring Island, BC. POLIS Discussion Series Paper 10-01.
Organization POLIS Project
URL http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/ltc/ss/pdf/sssoftpathwatercaserpt.pdf
Abstract/Description or Keywords Many Canadians believe that our fresh water resources are boundless. The truth is that only a
small proportion of our water is renewable and located close to where most Canadians live.
Continuing to take more and more water from nature while ignoring wasteful use at farms,
factories and households will likely lead us to an arid future of our own making. The best way
to secure the future for fresh water is to develop a plan that draws all “new” water from better
use of existing supplies and to change habits and attitudes.
The “soft path” is a planning approach for fresh water that differs fundamentally from
conventional, supply-focused water planning. The soft path approach allows us to unleash the
full potential of demand management by changing water-use habits, technologies and
practices. As a matter of principle, the soft path works within ecological limits and promotes
local public participation to ensure sustainability of our water resources.
Salt Spring Island (popn: 9,640)1 is the largest of the 13 main Gulf Islands in the Georgia
Straight off the coast of the lower mainland of British Columbia. Summer population can
approximately double. As with the lower mainland, Salt Spring has experienced considerable
growth over the past twenty years. Permanent population is predicted to continue to grow with
the current total build-out scenario under current zoning projected to be a little over 17,000.
(OCP, 2008). Development pressures, high rates of seasonal tourism, high dependence on
groundwater for drinking water and the presence of small community and private systems
make Salt Spring a unique study for the application of water conservation planning.
This heavy growth and growing demand for water has increasingly strained the island’s water
supplies. For example, the North Salt Spring Island Water District (the largest publiclymanaged
centralized water system on the island) is projected to reach the limit of its license
well before the build-out projection in the OCP is met. Elsewhere on the island, there are
increasing constraints – regulatory, economic, hydrologic, environmental, legal and water
quality – that may further stress water demands and stretch water supply. Salt Spring is faced
with a choice to build costly infrastructure to tap into greater surface and groundwater supplies
or to defer the need for new infrastructure by engaging in long-term conservation planning.
This strategy seeks to provide direction to this second option.
Information Type report
Regional Watershed Vancouver Island South
Sub-watershed if known Salt Spring Island
Aquifer #
Project status complete
Contact Name
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