Mayne Island Integrated Water Systems Society

October 5th, 2012
Rain shortage raises water concerns on islands
Mary Cooper of the Mayne Island Integrated Water Systems Society talks about concerns over ground water supply and dying trees on some of the islands.

Who We Are...

Mayne Island Integrated Water Systems Society is a 100% volunteer non profit Society of concerned citizens, water purveyors, sister Associations and industry, drawn from the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island, with a mandate to facilitate, educate and lobby on water conservation, preservation and protection for the Gulf Islands. Formed in the 1980s, bringing together only organized water systems for discussions, sharing supplies and information, MIIWSS expanded membership capabilities in 2005, inviting individual well owners, as well as water systems, groundwater organizations and members of the water industry to participate, regardless of location.

Integrated Water facilitates educational forums, articles and outreach programming. All funding is dedicated to the fulfilling of this mandate, including lobbying for the betterment of groundwater legislation, supply delivery, and groundwater protection, focusing on the Islands.

Our Chairperson, Mary Cooper, won the 2008 Individual Island's Trust Stewardship Award for her work on our behalf in water conservation, preservation, and protection on the Gulf Islands.

Membership ($5.00 annually) is open to all who share concerns about the future of potable water for Gulf Islands, be they an individual well owner, or a resident of an organized water system drawing from community wells. Like minded Associations and industry businesses lend their expertise to the community with their active participation. Check the membership link.

Why We Do It...

Integrated Water realizes that a viable, adequate, long term supply of potable drinking water is vital to island life--human and flora and fauna-- as well as land values.

The Gulf Islands receive their potable water primarily from groundwater. Galiano, Mayne and South Pender Islands are solely reliant on groundwater, while North Pender and Saturna have small lake reservoirs acting as groundwater recharge storage basins. There are also a few homes that supply solely from rainwater collection systems.

All Gulf Islands experience periods of summer drought, sometimes lasting as long as five months. Groundwater recharge occurs from November through to May. It is a generally accepted rule that it takes two years or more for rain to filtrate through to benefit an aquifer, depending on the make-up of that aquifer. Due to the changing nature of our rainfall patterns and removal of ground cover for development, much of the heavy rainfall runs off into the ocean, reducing the benefit to groundwater recharging.

Increasingly the Islands have been the focus of development and tourism, encouraged by the Provincial government and rising land values. As property continues to rollover, new residents to island lifestyle face major adjustments in learning to cohabitate with finite natural resources. Integrated Water workshops and articles attempt to attune our new neighbours and their guests, while reminding the full time residents, about the advantages of rainwater collection for exterior use, low consumption appliances, lovely brown "lawns" that require no summer care, dusty cars, zerescaping for water free gardening, and to include water in their recycling plans. Water is a gift---- a gift to be appreciated only within the household.

An island resource aware resident is a demand side manager, who adjusts his/her needs to fit the output of his/her well, and does not push the finite community aquifers to meet consumption oriented lifestyles.

British Columbia is progressing slowly towards meeting the standards of other Canadian provinces by having comprehensive groundwater legislation, equal to the attention given surface water as a drinking water source. To that end, Integrated Water lobbies governments at the local (Islands Trust) and provincial levels for legislative changes we feel will assist with protecting our finite groundwater resources for the future. Check our links to legislation.

Islanders must also consider how to manage their sewage. With a rare exception, island homes have individual septic systems. There are growing concerns about the interface between the aquifers and septic fields that are not operating efficiently. When conservation practices are used on the front end of the problem, the problems at the discharge end are alleviated.

In short, we do it because:

  • Without water we cannot live
  • Without water, our land has little value
  • Without water, there will be little flora or fauna
  • Without water, the Gulf Islands will become a sad commentary on what could have been had we cared enough to protect our resources.

next: 'what we do' >>>



Water resource books available throughout the Mayne Island Library.                                              Click here to see Library page for the listing numbers for easy borrowing.

Write to us:


567 Club Cres,

 Mayne Island, BC, V0N 2J1

Chair Bill Warning  
Vice Chair Mike Buchan  
Secretary Marie Elliott  
Treasurer Diane Plucinak
Past Chair Mary Cooper  
Community Representative Wesley Mulvin  
updated: Nov. 30 2013