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Cumberland Water System and Water Quality

This page was last reviewed on January 18, 2024.

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


Overview of the Village’s Drinking Water System

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 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.

Find out about seasonal water restrictions, how you can conserve water.

Cumberland Creek and Perseverance Creek Sub-Watersheds

The Perseverance Creek watershed (~2,200 hectares/5,400 acres) includes Allen Lake and tributaries such Cumberland Creek, Lookout Creek, and Hartley Creek. It has a long history of indigenous use as well as historic coal mining and associated settlements, historic and active timber harvesting. In recent years the watershed has also been a base for significant recreational development.

The watershed is rich with biodiversity, including species at risk and wild salmon. It is a community drinking water supply area providing clean drinking water directly to over 5,000 residents and businesses in the Village of Cumberland and the community of Royston.

The Perseverance Creek watershed is a sub basin of the Comox Lake watershed, and Perseverance Creek is a tributary to Comox Lake, which supplies drinking water to an additional 50,000 residents and businesses including the K’ómoks First Nation, the City of Courtenay, and the Town of Comox through the Comox Valley Regional District water service.

Approximately 25% of the watershed is owned and managed by the Village of Cumberland for water quantity and quality, biodiversity conservation and low-impact recreation. A significant portion of these lands were acquired through the land protection activities of the Cumberland Community Forest Society (CCFS). The remainder of the watershed (~74%) is owned by two private forest companies, TimberWest and Comox Timber, and is managed by Mosaic Forest Management and Manulife Resource Group respectively. Both the forest companies and local governments have legal responsibilities, regulatory objectives, and policies to ensure that an abundant supply of clean drinking water remains available to the local community.

In order to meet these responsibilities, the Village of Cumberland, Mosaic Forest Management, and the Cumberland Community Forest Society are undertaking the Perseverance Watershed Initiative (PWI). The new partnership initiative was developed in order to bring together private forest industry, conservation leadership, and the Village to develop a collaborative strategy for integrated watershed planning and management in support of long-term sustainability and resiliency of the Perseverance Creek watershed.

Learn more about the PWI by clicking here.

History of the Water System

The water system infrastructure was initially owned and operated by the Cumberland-Union Waterworks company, which began operation in July 1897 with the first pipes bringing water from Hamilton Creek.

In 1949, the City of Cumberland held a referendum to approve borrowing of $50,000 to purchase the water works system from the company. The original bylaw was adopted on November 7, 1949.

Since that time the Village’s water system has received a number of upgrades and improvements to meet the growing demand of the Village.

Recent Water System Improvements

View Upcoming Village Projects for more information on updates to the water system.

No. 2 Dam Reconstruction 2022

In fall 2022, the Village received confirmation of funding in the amount of $4,475,000 from the province’s “Investing Canada Infrastructure Program” for the reconstruction of Dam #2 and adjacent works. This Project will include the replacement of No. 2 Dam, correct the existing erosion of the dam spillway and complete minor upgrades to the Henderson Dam.

The Project is currently in the planning stages and further information will be posted as it becomes available.

Water Treatment Upgrades 2016-2021

In March 2017, the Village received a grant from the federal/provincial Clean Water and Wastewater Fund that covered 83% of eligible costs (up to $4 988 300) to complete the water treatment upgrades, including:

  • Undertake bathymetric survey – Completed in 2016
  • Secure land for the new water treatment plant and storage reservoir – Completed in 2016
  • Construction of twinning of the supply line – Completed in 2017
  • Construction of a new water treatment plant and storage reservoir – Completed December 2020
  • Installed water level and quality monitoring equipment within the dam infrastructure – Completed in 2022

The new treatment plant includes dual barrier disinfection treatment made up of ultraviolet (UV) and chlorine, which utilizes a sodium hypochlorite generation unit.

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 continues to come from the Cumberland Creek and Perseverance Creek watersheds, this additional ground water source allows the Village to 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.

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.

Water Quality and Protection

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 weekly for bacteria by Village staff at six sites located throughout Cumberland and Royston and results are submitted to Island Health. Annual drinking water reports are submitted to Island Health each year.

2022 Annual Drinking Water Report

2021 Annual Drinking Water Report

2020 Annual Drinking Water Report

2019 Annual Drinking Water Report

2018 Annual Drinking Water Report

2017 Annual Drinking Water Report

2016 Annual Drinking Water Report

2015 Treated Water Analysis

2015 Well Water Analysis – Before Treatment

2014 Surface Water Analysis – Before Treatment

2014 Well Water Analysis – Before Treatment

Please help protect the quality of your drinking water by 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.

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