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"Happiness always looks small when you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and at once you learn how big and precious it is."
Maxim Gorky

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Head for the hills...

When you turn on your tap do you ever think about where your water comes from?
Do you even know?
For us we know that it comes from our well via an artesian well 
somewhere deep underground.
But for those in the Greater Victoria area who have 'city water', it travels
from way up in the Sooke hills miles and miles away...
My mom and I recently went on the 26th annual tour of the Capital Regional District watershed tour.
A few times a year the CRD load people up on buses and take you through locked 
gates into the restricted, protected lands that provide hundreds of thousands
of people with clean, safe drinking water...
After meeting our escort, we are driven through pristine forest lands up to our first stop.
The watershed is made up of 20,550 hectares of land.
This is Sooke Lake. It's the largest reservoir in the watershed and has been in active use
since 1915. This is the primary source of water supply and is 8.3 kilometres long, 1.6 kilometres wide
and has a maximum depth of 75 metres. Do the math...That means there's about 
35 billion gallons of water in there!
We had an excellent guide by the name of Annette Constabel. She is very well informed and has been involved in the forest and water industry for many years. 
 She brought so much interesting info along with her and really knows her stuff.
 One of the next stops was Rithet Creek.
 It was a lovely morning and the creek babbled its music to us while we learned about it's history.
It's the primary tributary for the Sooke Lake Reservoir and supplies about 25% of the water coming in. Much of the rest of the water is from rainfall. We don't have a lot of snow here so we are not dependant on snowpack. It is a natural creek but was 'straightened' in the '60's which would not be done nowadays. 
 Although the forest around these parts is much the same as around my house, it felt different.
More delicate, much quieter...
 ...more vulnerable...
 Annette explained that the CRD goes to great lengths to ensure the protection of these lands 
not only for the safety of the water but the preservation of the forest...
It's not only home to the vast variety of flora but also the fauna.
Large mammals include black bear, cougar, Roosevelt elk, Columbia black-tailed deer and wolves.
(In fact we heard a wolf howl at the beginning of our tour.)
It's also home to many at risk species such as northern goshawk, marbled murrelet, western screech owl, northern pygmy owl, ermine and a local sub species of the American shrew.
  If gravel is needed, it's quarried here within the watershed. All the toilets are composting ones using wood chips from the fallen or pruned trees here. Nothing is brought in.
Any foresting is done with the utmost care...
 Invasive species are kept under control as best they can. Unfortunately Scotch broom
is a problem, as it is in most areas around Vancouver Island. 
Where the forest is left to be on its own, in its natural state, is simple perfection...
 Next stop down the road is the Deception Reservoir...
 This water is used for water release to the mighty Sooke River to protect ecological values downstream of the Sooke Dam. This reservoir holds up to 900 million gallons of water...
 Did I mention what a gorgeous day it was?!
Oh hey!, there's my mom! Say hi to everyone mom!
 At this spot, the CRD provided some drinks and a spot for us to have our bagged lunch. They had some info tents set up as well with  some historical artifacts to look at like these old pipes and flues.
 This is the spillway for overflow and water release...
 ...looking down the other side...
 Our next stop was the Goldstream Reservoir. 
This is a secondary water supply in case something happens to the main source in the Sooke Lake Reservoir. Apparently it can provide water for 6 weeks. That's it. Makes you think a bit hey?
There are a total of 11 dams on the 4 reservoirs built between 1892 and 1914.
 Annette had some interesting facts about a family that were caretakers on this reservoir from 1943 to 1949. One of the children, Johnina Smith wrote a book about here childhood there...
 What a place to live! In those days it was rough living though...miles and miles from anywhere...
They would put in a grocery order in October which had to last them until the spring!
Anyone who came up there had to be tested for TB. 
There was no swimming allowed, only fishing from non motorized boats..
 The house is still there but no inhabitants now. Its falling down but word has it the buildings may be restored and turned into a bit of a museum...
The last stop was the water treatment plant at Japan Gulch. Much technical stuff happens here including disinfection using ultraviolet light followed by chlorine and ammonia treatments.
And then it's off to the people! 
 We are so lucky here to have an abundance of safe, clean water.
Those who abuse this, the most basic of necessities should think twice.
It's a right, but honestly, it seems like its becoming a privilege.
It irks me so much when I see someone absent minded 'washing' their driveway or 
wasting water in any way.
So turn off the taps when you don't need them.
And enjoy that fresh glass of water.


Nancy Kay said...

What a great tour!

Acornmoon said...

Hi Mom! How wonderful to think that such wild and unspoilt areas still exist on our crowded planet. How lucky we are to have clean tap water too.

Mary said...

My husband and I are extremely cautious with our water use. So valuable and precious. I know some see it as a commodity. I just don't understand that attitude.

These are magnificent photos. After viewing them, I've decided I need to get out of town and into the forest more often. I think it makes one more appreciative of wildlife and more respectful. And it's also therapeutic. Summer is coming and I need to get out of the concrete and into the green! :)