New water reservoir ready for spring

Photo by Kyle James

Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality’s (SPMRM) water reservoir project is almost complete and will be ready to catch water when the snow begins to melt in the spring.

The reservoir, located between Mt. Tod and the top of the Sundance Chair, will double the amount of potable water available for the community.

Omar Butt, SPMRM’s director of public works, said the reservoir is now in place and there are only final details to complete, such as fencing to keep animals out.

“It can hold water now, and there’s probably some in there,” said Butt. “The idea is that in the spring freshet, it’ll be filled up.”

The municipality is able to open their reservoir over the winter, as long as the environmental flow needs are still met. But it won’t begin really filling up until March or April, said Butt.

“Normally, the resort opens theirs April 1 and within about three weeks, the reservoir is full,” said Butt. “Ours will be about the same size as theirs, so it’ll be about double that to fill it all up. And then realistically, we can start using the water as we’re diverting.”

Since there aren’t as many people in Sun Peaks during the spring, Butt said SPMRM will take advantage of this time to do their annual water system flushing. Then next winter, the extra water will really come into use.

About two years ago, SPMRM realized that their ground water supply could not keep up with the demand for water in the winter. Following the lead of how Sun Peaks Resort (SPR) obtains water for snowmaking, the municipality received the community’s consent to invest $6.5 million in a new water reservoir project to reduce the amount being pumped from the ground.

In the meantime, SPR has agreed to reduce their snowmaking operations to give water to the municipality.

“This winter, it’s almost half of their reservoir we’re holding on to for potable water use,” said Butt. “It’s hard to tell how [occupancy] will be with COVID and now with the highways shut down, if we will need that full amount, but better to be safe than sorry.”

When the new reservoir’s water supply is used next winter, Butt said it will be most beneficial for SPR because they will be able to use their entire reservoir for snowmaking again.

“They’re definitely looking to expand that as part of their part of the Resort Master Plan and so we’re looking to work together on this,” said Butt.

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