Slarkedus Lake. Photo: Courtesy of the Skidegate Band Council

By Tawla Jaad —

The week of July 17, in consultation with Water Treatment Plant Operator, John Smith, the Skidegate Band Council realized that it’s water supply was getting very low. To address the issue a Public Dinner Meeting was called on July 24. The Band Council called upon Dana Moraes, it’s community plan coordinator to organize the meeting. One-hundred and fifteen members attended the meeting. At the meeting participants were asked to complete a survey and calculate the average amount of water they use daily. The results were surprising and higher than expected for most.

At the dinner, Richard Fenton, Water Treatment Plant Operator, gave a presentation about the current condition of Skidgate’s water source, Slarkedus Lake. The lake is now 35.5 inches lower than it would be under normal weather conditions. He also described the treatment and monitoring the water receives daily at the plant, such as temperature and pH testing.

Given the concern in the community about the water shortage, residents spent time brainstorming solutions to the water shortage and creative ways to reuse and recycle water in their daily lives. In closing, participants were given a package of signs to place around their homes to remind them to do things like turn off a tap and flush less often.

This is Skidegate’s first time experiencing a water shortage, and there are a few reasons why. The first is due to the mild winter, because of the lack of the usual rain and snow the Islands accumulated little surface water. The second reason is also weather related, the Islands experienced over two months with very little rain this summer. These reasons combined with leaks in the distribution system and people generally using more water has resulted in a ‘Stage 4’ drought condition. At this time Skidegate Band says the lake condition is stable given the water supply is not continuing to drop.

The conservation measures have worked and it is estimated that Band members have cut back their usage by 11%,  but the administration says that savings need to raise to 50% until conditions improve at the lake.

Since July 17, a team consisting of the Skidegate Band Council, Water Treatment Plant Operators, the CAO, Deputy CAO, Director of Housing/Lands & Energy Efficiency, CCP Coordinator, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, and a team from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada have met weekly, via teleconference, to discuss the situation and determine the next steps. Divers were also brought from off-Island to examine the lake and access exactly how much silt is at the bottom and how much water remains. The Band Council awaits their report.

Tips for water conservation:

1. Turn off the faucet when washing dishes, brushing teeth, shaving and washing hands
2. Repurpose your waste water
3. Keep showers under five minutes
4. Create a low flush toilet by filling pint jars with water and placing them in the tank
5. Do not wash vehicles, fill pools or water plants
6. Only run dishwashers and washing machines when you have a full load
7. Check to make sure no taps, pipes or hoses in your home are leaking.

Please contact the Skidegate Band Office (250 559 4496) and they can assist with repairs

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