GABRIOLA GROUND WATER MANAGEMENT SOCIETY
GGMS was created under the Societies Act on April 8th, 2000.
The objectives of the Gabriola Groundwater Management Society are to:
Promote groundwater management on Gabriola;
Provide information regarding groundwater use to all interested groups and individuals;
Develop a data base regarding distribution, quantity, quality and recharging capability of existing wells;
Explore potential for alternative individual household sewage disposal systems;
Provide “on island” laboratory water testing services at a nominal fee;
Promote groundwater management with reference to the island watersheds;
Develop strategies for dispute resolution regarding neighbourhood water problems;
Explore the potential for septic tank effluent treatment “on island”; and
Raise funds to enable the GGMS to carry out its stated purposes.
In 2001 the board decided to start a Gabriola Groundwater Quality Management Program. To that end lab equipment was loaned to the society and a founding member, Jeremy Baker, started the project. As a very overqualified lab technician he selected the water test that would be used and the lab that we would do business with.
After a confusing first trial run on a sunny Saturday, Jenny MacLeod became a member of the board and designed the public format for the water testing procedure.
It was decided that the issue of confidentiality was paramount. The person who used or owned the well was the owner of the test results, but these results could be shared with GGMS by signing a release on the form. This release was only to GGMS and a system was designed so that these results and the person’s name and address for those results were only known to one person, the public link, who advised the clients of water test results as soon as possible.
GGMS also decided that the test used would measure total coliforms and e-coli, the standard that was used across Canada according to government guidelines. The results were to be used as a tool so that Gabriola residents could manage their well water supplies and monitor their water supply quality.
The second phase
was to educate people about groundwater and well construction and we have quietly assisted homeowners to upgrade their wells to required standards. We think that would amount to a few hundred wells on Gabriola being brought into top condition.
This program (with an interruption in 2004) has continued and GGMS now owns its own lab equipment.
GGMS took up the burden of public education on groundwater on Gabriola, but the driving principle, the management of Groundwater quality and quantity, led us into the realm of water catchment. To this end we started to advocate water catchment for domestic use in 2005.
We call this the Gabriola Groundwater Quantity Management Program. There is no formal committee, but the entire board is engaged in this work.
We believe that we do not have a water problem. We have a water management problem: we need water storage so that water is collected in the rains and used in the dry season for all household needs. This will replenish the aquifers in the dry season when they are most stressed. Instead of pulling excessive amounts of water from the lower levels of groundwater in the aquifers in the summer when our population triples and these water stocks are low, and to minimize the need for new well construction as development occurs, GGMS believes that a program of water conservation, public education and responsible public best practices will help to create a sustainable, healthy community based on a natural, replenished infrastructure.
Since then we have taken this issue to the public and to middle government, Islands Trust and the Regional District of Nanaimo. We have partnered with the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Canada, and Islands Trust in workshop projects. The executive has attended workshops on Mayne Island sponsored by the Mayne Island Integrated Water Services System and UBC’s International Conference on water regulation issues in Canada and our near neighbours to the South, San Juan County and Washington State.
Because of the work of GGMS, Jenny MacLeod the President of GGMS received a Stewardship award in 2007 from the Islands Trust, an award which is shared with GGMS.
GGMS continues to work towards groundwater quality management and on groundwater quantity issues, with the goal of a clean, safe, sustainable water supply for our community and our Gabriola residents.