Cedar aquifer issues spur meeting

As the water levels deplete and wells risk contamination, residents of Cedar and Yellow Point are taking action.“We’re encouraging people to be aware of the aquifer and groundwater challenges we’re facing,” said Laurie Gourlay, president of the Mid-Island Sustainability and Stewardship Initiative.A public meeting was held on the local water supply Feb. 24 and another meeting was planned for Monday, March 14.The Yellow Point aquifer is identified as the second most vulnerable on the Island according to a Regional District of Nanaimo study.“The ground doesn’t retain water as well as other places do,” explained Gourlay. He said the water level has dropped 13 metres in 11 years.“That’s quite formidable,” he said.Gourlay said now the question is how does the area accommodate further growth?The CVRD and RDN are surprised with the findings from the Ministry of the Environment on the depleting water levels, he said.“They’ve proceeded with development plans with the understanding the water is readily available, but are now finding developments in place have depleted the water,” he said.But the time to address these concerns is now.Gourlay said the meetings help the residents feel connected to the issue.“We found the residents don’t feel they’re being invited to contribute their experiences,” he said. “Some of them have been here a long time.”Among the water level concerns, there is also the issue of salt water intrusion into wells.“Some farms are getting salt water into their wells and having to close them up.” It’s not just an issue for the Yellow Point aquifer, said Gourlay, but Cassidy’s water level has been targeted as a vulnerable, too.“It suggests there’s going to be a lot of challenges to address.”Cassidy’s aquifer is the second largest on the Island.He said Ladysmith has previously expressed interest in tapping into Cassidy’s aquifer for its water needs.“But can it support them?” he asked. “There’s a challenge to find a water source.”