Greater Vancouver Water District reaches century milestone

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Seymour Creek
The regional district is also responsible for the protection and stewardship of the Capilano, Seymour, and Coquitlam watersheds. Pictured is the construction of a wooden pipe for the Seymour Creek Water System in 1908. Photo Credit: Vancouver Archives

The Greater Vancouver Water District is celebrating 100 years of providing high-quality drinking water to the region’s 2.8 million residents through a complex treatment and transmission system the district calls “safe and reliable.”

Collaboration on water supply in the region started as early as 1886 with the founding of the Vancouver and Coquitlam Waterworks companies, which had a clear mission to find and deliver a good, reliable source of water for a growing population, say local officials. The Greater Vancouver Water District was founded in 1924.

“Water is essential to life, and for a century Metro Vancouver has been involved with making sure this valuable resource is stored, treated, and supplied to our members at an exceptional value,” announced George  Harvie, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Board of Directors, in a statement. “I’m proud of the work that this Board and those who have come before have done to protect water supply areas, and to build and maintain a resilient system that delivers some of the best drinking water in the world.”

After 1924, the district secured leases for the Capilano and Seymour watersheds, and the Cleveland and Seymour Falls dams were constructed. Also created were the Seymour Capilano Filtration Plant and Coquitlam Water Treatment Plant, as well as twin tunnels to connect the Capilano Reservoir to the Seymour Capilano Filtration Plant.

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The regional district is also responsible for the protection and stewardship of the Capilano, Seymour, and Coquitlam watersheds.

Planning for the next 100 years, regional officials are focused on conservation and reducing per-capita water consumption, especially in the summer, when use of treated drinking water jumps by some 50% due to lawn watering.

“Long-term planning for a sustainable water supply is always top of mind at Metro Vancouver,” said Malcolm Brodie, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Water Committee, in a statement. “As our region grows and the climate changes and becomes more unpredictable, the next important challenge we have is to ensure that we’re storing and using treated drinking water responsibly. We use too much drinking water in this region in areas it isn’t needed, and the actions and decisions we make now around water conservation will make a huge difference for the future.”

Sustainable use of water resources, including a focus on conservation, will remain key as Metro Vancouver updates its Drinking Water Management Plan to address the challenges associated with population growth and climate change that have emerged since the last plan update in 2011. Later this year, the public will be invited to participate by providing input on Metro Vancouver’s goals, strategies, and actions regarding water supply for the next 10 years.

Metro Vancouver introduced its first Drinking Water Management Plan in 2005 and is actively engaging First Nations on the latest Drinking Water Management Plan update.

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