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Cumberland Water System and Water Quality

This page was last reviewed on March 29, 2017.

View the Village’s Long Term Water Supply Strategy, June 2016 and other water plans and studies on the Village’s drinking water system.

Council adopted the Village of Cumberland Watershed Management Plan at the regular meeting of Council on November 14, 2016.


Cumberland’s drinking water comes from five lakes located in the Cumberland Creek and Perseverance Creek sub-watersheds as well as a ground source at Coal Creek Historic Park. On average, 1500m3 is drawn from the reservoirs each day and 600m3 is drawn from the well.

The well water was introduced into the water system in late 2013, and this cleaner groundwater is a welcome addition to Cumberland’s drinking water, helping to improve the overall quality of the water. Water from this well is chlorinated at a control building within the park and then travels through a new water main constructed under the western section of Dunsmuir Avenue, known as Camp Road, where it is discharged then into the Village’s water distribution system.

At full storage capacity the reservoirs hold 891,000 m3 of water. Approximately approximately 90 liters of water per second can be drawn from the reservoirs, while approximately 16 litres of water per second can be drawn from the Coal Creek well. Because these sources of water are limited, Cumberland must manage its water sources wisely to limit the demand for new and potentially expensive sources of water. Water conservation during the summer months is key to this strategy.

You can learn more about Water Use Restrictions in Cumberland, and you can also read the local Water Conservation bylaw.

Water System Improvements

The Village is planning improvements to its community water system in the next few years. Seismic improvements to Stevens Lake dam have been completed and other structure improvements are expected to take place in the coming years. This work will lessen the potential for failure of these dams due to an earthquake.

View the Long Term Water Supply Strategy for more information on proposed upgrades as at June 2016. In July 2016, Council approved the following implementation plan:

  • Undertake bathymetric survey – Complete
  • Begin construction of twinning of the supply line – June 2017
  • Secure land for locating new UV water treatment plant and storage reservoir – Complete
  • Begin construction of new UV water treatment plant and storage reservoir – Spring 2017
  • Complete construction and commissioning of water treatment plant and storage reservoir – Spring 2018

Water Treatment Upgrades

The Island Health’s 2007 surface water treatment policy, nicknamed the 4-3-2-1 policy, requires adequate removal or inactivation of pathogenic organisms that may be present in raw water. Cumberland must meet these requirements in order to provide safe drinking water for residents and it is a condition of Cumberland’s operating permit.

Island Health has ordered that the Village provide a second treatment method in addition to chlorination to its drinking water system. Cumberland is proposing to install ultraviolet disinfection to neutralize bacteria and parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium that can cause water-borne diseases.

Cost of Upgrades

The Village has received a grant to pay for 83% of capital costs for these improvements. The remainder will be paid through a parcel tax of $63-74 (depending on the length of the term).

Your utility bill will increase gradually to pay for these projects, including expected increased operating costs for the new treatment plant. The increased amount may be reduced as the community grows and more property owners share the cost to repay the debt.

Water Quality and Protection

2015 Treated Water Analysis

2015 Well Water Analysis – Before Treatment

2014 Surface Water Analysis – Before Treatment

2014 Well Water Analysis – Before Treatment

Cumberland’s water is treated with chlorination which kills viruses and keeps the water free of harmful bacteria and some other pathogenic organisms. The water is tested regularly by Village staff at six sites located throughout Cumberland and Royston and results are submitted to Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA).

Cumberland water is safe, but the water quality could be improved by a second disinfection method. Chlorine is most effective when combined with a second type of disinfection. In 2017-2018, Cumberland will install a second treatment method, ultraviolet disinfection treatment, in addition to chlorination.

Please help protect the quality of your drinking water by not not swimming in the lakes or camping or walking your dog close to the lakes. This will reduce the potential for the introduction of fecal contaminants that can enter the water through storm water run off.

Automatic Water Flushing

Water flushing from dead-end water lines ensures that treated water flows through these lines and the water does not become stagnant. These dead-end lines are located at

  • the west end of Kendal Avenue, and
  • the Comox Valley Parkway east of the Discovery Centre

Drawing treated water to the ends of these water lines keeps the proper amount of residual chlorine in the water distribution system, making sure that the water is safe.

Cumberland Creek and Perseverence Creek Sub-Watersheds

The Cumberland Creek and Perseverance Creek watersheds are sub-watersheds of the Comox Lake watershed. These two sub-watersheds encompass about 900 hectares. The sub-watersheds are located within the Village of Cumberland and also within the boundaries of Comox Valley Regional District Electoral Area A. While some of the watershed land is owned by the Village of Cumberland, including the immediate areas around the lakes, much of the land is privately held forest land owned by TimberWest.

The land owned by forest companies is designated as Private Managed Forest and forestry practices must adhere to the Private Managed Forest Land Act as well as other federal and provincial regulations such as the Water Act, Fisheries Act, and Drinking Water Protection Act. TimberWest updates the Village on its harvesting plans regularly. Timber harvesting reviews consider biodiversity, ecosystems, terrain stability, watersheds, economics, cut block designs, and reforestation. The landowner is aware that their activities can impact the quality of Cumberland’s drinking water. Proposed harvesting plans for 2013/2014 include 2 blocks of 35 hectares in upper Cumberland Creek making up 3% of the entire Comox Lake watershed.

Coal Creek Well Project 2012/2013

Water from the Coal Creek well is chlorinated at a control building within the park and then travels through a new water main constructed under the western section of Dunsmuir Avenue, known as Camp Road, where it is then discharged into the Village’s water distribution system.

While the majority of the Village’s water will continue to come from the Cumberland Creek and Perseverance Creek watersheds, this new ground water source will help the Village work toward meeting the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s high standards for water treatment. In the summer months when water levels are low in the watershed reservoirs, more water can be drawn from the Coal Creek well, making for cleaner and safer water for Cumberland residents.

The new well pump incorporates the use of a variable frequency drive, enabling better control and improved efficiency and therefore less energy to pump the water out of the ground. The project also contributes to water conservation as the new water main under Dunsmuir Avenue replaced what was likely one of the oldest and leakiest water mains in the Village.

Funds to construct the well and control building came from development cost charges for water infrastructure. Development cost charges are imposed on any new development to fund the capital costs of certain works to service new development. Funding for the new water main under Dunsmuir Avenue came from a combination of federal Community Works Funds, water development cost charges, and water utility revenue.

The cost to design and construct the Coal Creek well and control building was approximately $560,000. The cost of the upgrade to a portion of the Dunsmuir Avenue water main was $561,500.

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