When does the North Salt Spring Waterworks District’s moratorium on new water connections not make sense?
When it results in more, not less, water being consumed by one of its customers.
Last week the NSSWD board turned down a moratorium-exemption request by owners of the Creekhouse complex in Ganges for a caretaker suite to be added. Property owners feel an on-site resident would help deter vandalism.
Because studies have indicated the NSSWD cannot add to existing and committed-in-future demand for its water supplies, in 2015 the board declared a moratorium on new connections that would ultimately result in an increase in water use.
But the Creekhouse owners’ plan was to replace old plumbing fixtures with new, more efficient ones throughout the entire multi-suite commercial-retail building, which meant adding the suite would result in less water being used.
A change that results in a net reduction in water consumption should be a good thing, right?
But NSSWD representatives will often state that promotion of water conservation is not their primary aim. Ensuring lake levels don’t get too low in summer months is one matter, but since the NSSWD is in the business of selling water, it doesn’t want to sell less of it year-round. If everyone in the district became ace water conservers, the NSSWD could run short of funds to operate. It’s a contradiction that causes the NSSWD to send mixed messages and it’s unfortunate that solutions to other community problems cannot be pursued as a result.
Increasing the number of people who live in the Ganges core has long been suggested as desirable for a number of reasons, and official community plan policies support the concept when demand for water can be met, as it would be in the Creekhouse case.
Making an exception to the moratorium policy is not unprecedented. Last year the NSSWD approved water for increased Harbour House Hotel units in a case where changing to more efficient fixtures was to result in 10 to 15 per cent less water being consumed.
Having a caretaker suite at Creekhouse would reduce water consumption in Ganges while providing housing for one individual and security services that could help the whole village. It’s a shame that all of those benefits are being flushed away by NSSWD intransigence in this case.