Two water services exist in the Saratoga Miracle Beach area:
- Black Creek Oyster Bay (BCOB) water service
- Watutco enterprises water service
With reducing annual snow falls we need to know more about the water resources in this area. In 2015, the CVRD conducted a hydrological assessment to determine long term capacity of water resources. This work included:
- A detailed assessment of the wells that service the BCOB system to determine the long term capacity of the water resources in the Black Creek area
- Help to identify a new source of water, augment water from Oyster River and adjacent aquifers and support the needs of the users of the current BCOB water service
- Inform future decisions on land use, density, growth patterns and subdivision in the settlement node
- Assist in identifying the overall capacity of the aquifer and the Oyster River source
On November 15, 2015, a copy of the staff report and engineer report were presented to the Black Creek - Oyster Bay services committee. On November 24, 2015, the CVRD board adopted the motion to provide funding to complete further evaluation of water wells. In 2016, the CVRD continues with the next phase of the assessment to determine if the supply wells have the long term capacity to meet the maximum day demands of the system.
The Watutco private water system services approximately 128 households and two commercial operations: the Pacific Playgrounds resort and the Saratoga Beach Mobile Home Park. The system was constructed between 1973 - 1975 and holds three water licenses. The water comes from a shallow well located within the Pacific Playgrounds recreation site, adjacent to Oyster River. In December 2015, the system owner formally requested to enter into negotiations with the CVRD to take over this private system. Prior to the transfer of any water system, the CVRD requires proof that the system meets regional district’s standards. On July 11, 2016, the Black Creek -/ Oyster Bay services committee requested more information from CVRD staff for more information on the Watutco private water system.
In the interim of the studies being conducted, it is proposed to establish a low growth rate in the Saratoga Miracle Beach settlement node. During this period, property owners applying to rezone or subdivide will be required to demonstrate that they have access to water, either through an on-site well or with an approved connection to one of the two systems.
All properties in this planning area are serviced by on-site septic systems. There has been on-going concern about the risk and occurrence of those systems failing due to age and deferred maintenance. To evaluate this, the CVRD conducted a hydrogeological assessment to establish the rate of failing systems. In spring 2015, shallow monitoring wells were installed downslope from sub-study areas to collect samples and test for groundwater contamination due to failing onsite sewage treatment systems.
On February 15, 2016, a staff report and an engineer report were presented to the electoral areas services committee. The report findings were:
- 6 out of 31 monitoring wells (or 19 per cent) failed to meet or exceed water quality objectives.
- Possible causes include:
- Small residential lots, especially those smaller than 0.25 hectares (0.6 acres);
- High density recreational lots especially those with more than 12 cabins / RV campsites per hectare;
- Areas with a shallow water table, and
- Aging, undersized septic systems
The study concludes that no urgent need exists for a larger area treatment system to service the entire settlement node. On the other hand, the study recommends connecting select properties to a publicly owned communal treatment system if subsequent engineering studies demonstrate feasibility.
Through the rural Comox Valley OCP process, the Transportation Road Network Plan and the BC Transit Futures Plan, we heard the following community needs expressed:
- Establish service centres to provide a range of uses including transit stops, park and ride, bike storage and other community services
- Improve transit exchange at the Oyster River and install formal bus stops throughout the area rather than the flag down system
- Increase service frequency of the #12 North Valley connector which connects to the Campbell River transit system at the Oyster River exchange
- Provide service to North Island College and downtown Courtenay with connections to other areas served by the transit system
Saratoga Beach transit hub – commercial area north of Oyster River
Miracle Beach transit hub
Other initiatives could include:
- Seek opportunities for grant funding and establishment of a local service area for construction of a separated pedestrian and bike lanes, such as along the north side of Miracle Beach Drive and along Regent Road connecting to the Oyster River bridge
- Encourage MoTI to reduce the speed limit along Highway 19A between Black Creek and Oyster River and on other key roads such as Miracle Beach Drive to encourage cycling and walking
- Work to implement the BC Transit Futures Plan to maintain and enhance public transit services between Saratoga Miracle Beach and Courtenay/Comox.