What does the West Bench reservoir look like from your house?

  • Posted on: 10 August 2015
  • By: Michael Brydon

Attention Westwood Properties residents: Please do the following if you can see the West Bench reservoir:

  1. stand on your deck
  2. take a picture of the reservoir as you see it
  3. email the picture to me at mbrydon@rdos.bc.ca.


Why? We want to know how an expansion of the reservoir might impact your view.

Here is the reservoir from my deck.  I can see it, but it does not dominate the scene.  We want to know what you see so we are asking you to show us.

Background: The West Bench water upgrade project is coming to an end (with the decommissioning of the old WBID pump house).  At this point, it looks like the RDOS is a bit under budget on this project.  That is normally good news--we can give the money back to taxpayers.  The problem here is that roughly 60 cents of every dollar sitting the the project's bank account is grant money.  We could give it back, but most of it would be going back to the province.  Or we could start working our way through some of the remaining system deficiencies that we put on the back-burner pending sufficient funding (this was discussed in this posting).

One relatively large back-burner project is a reservoir upgrade for the West Bench water system.  You might recall that significant upgrades were a major condition of the WBID's extra-territorial service proposal.  The RDOS took the reservoir upgrade off the table when it took over the project not because the upgrade is unnecessary but because we envisioned the Sage Mesa system joining the West Bench system in the near future.  It makes more sense from an engineering point of view to build a combined reservoir system for the combined West Bench/Sage Mesa system. It also makes more sense from an aesthetic point of view.  The existing West Bench reservoir is in an awkward spot.  Although the reservoir used to be in the middle of nowhere, the Westwood Properties subdivision was constructed around it.  As such, a number of residents now have a graffiti-covered concrete cylinder right in the middle of their views. The upper Sage Mesa reservoir in contrast is still in the middle of nowhere.

(click image to zoom)

As it turns out, amalgamation with the Sage Mesa water system is taking longer than we anticipated.  You may recall that we have no decision making authority with regard to the Sage Mesa system and are mere observers until its fate is determined by the Chapman family and the Province of BC.  Until that time, an integrated reservoir system is entirely theoretical. Thus,  with a surplus remaining from the main upgrade project, RDOS is re-examining the idea of expanding the West Bench reservoir on the existing site.

A critical precondition for reservoir expansion on the existing site is that the visual impact be reasonable.  Now as you may recall, I made the same "reasonable visual impact" argument in favor of the pump house at its current location on West Bench Hill Road.  That piece of infrastructure turned out to be VERY visible.  All I can say is that I am smarter now.  I have learned to ensure visual impact is part of the design specification and keep a much closer eye on the engineers throughout the design and construction process.

In any case, an expanded reservoir is just an idea at this point.  RDOS staff is in the very early stages of exploration and should have conceptual plans by the fall.  What I want to know at this point is whether the idea is dead in the water.  RDOS staff claims it is possible to situate another reservoir on the north side of the existing cylinder behind a little hill.  I have taken a look at the site and agree that it is possible to hide most of the structure behind the hill and hide the rest with native evergreens. Indeed, we should likely do an evergreen planting program around the existing structure regardless of any upgrades--there is no need for it to look so bad.

At this point I am looking for feedback, comments, questions, howls of outrage or whatever.  You can email me, phone me, or use the comment feature below.