The timeline for a new water source for Abbotsford has been extended to 2020 according to new water demand projections done by city staff.
Previous to the referendum on the P3 Stave Lake proposal during the municipal election in November, the city stated that a new water source would need to be in place by 2016.
Voters rejected the project and the city must develop new plans to meet residents' water needs.
The new water demand estimates are lower than those projected in the 2010 Water Master Plan due to current data that indicates slower population growth, lower consumption rates in Abbotsford and less than anticipated demand from non-residential properties, stated a report presented to the Abbotsford Mission Water Sewer Commission last Thursday.
Using maximum day demand as the guideline, the current recommended system capacity of 135 to 155 MLD (million litres per day) is expected to be sufficient ranging from 2015 to 2020, states the report.
Abbotsford city Coun. Henry Braun, who sits on the AMWSC, said he campaigned for office in November saying the city's water demand estimates were too high based on the slowing population growth rates and a downward trend in water use since 2007.
"Water consumption was dropping and we knew that," Braun said.
"We still need a new water source, but we didn't need it in the time frame the city said we did."
With more conservation, system efficiencies and additional accurate data from smart meters, Braun believes the deadline for new water source can even be pushed to 2025.
He also believes that the province will extend the city's permits to use the Bevan Wells, which can supply up to 20 MLD to the system, past 2015.
Braun said he understands that city staff will naturally err on the side of caution when making projections future water demand.
"Yes, it's their job to deal with the most conservative numbers, but it's council's job to weigh those numbers and ask what we do with this data."
The 2010 Water Master Plan, prepared by the consulting firm AECOM Canada, calculated demand projections based on 2007 water meter data and population projections based on the 2006 census.
From 2000 through to a peak in 2007, water demand grew but trends indicate a decline in average day and peak demand since that time.
Abbotsford also has more accurate information as a result of installing smart water meters, which calculate data on an hourly basis, that have been in operation since May 2011.
Based on new data from the meters, the average day per capita demand for Abbotsford residents is now 200 litres per capita per day, down from the 281 l/c/d projected in the 2010 Master Plan.
The main reasons for the drop in water consumption are the combined result from an increase of water rates, bi-monthly billing and the identification of thousands of leaks by the smart water meters, staff told the AMWSC.
The combined number of people in Abbotsford and Mission, with a projected growth rate of 1.6 per cent, now expected to be receiving water service by 2036 is 251,000, down from the previous estimate of 280,000 due to a 2006 growth rate projection of 2.2 per cent.
In 2007, maximum day demand (MDD) reached 139 MLD and close to 80 MLD in average daily demand (ADD) with a system that at that time had a 143 MLD source capacity.
Current data suggests that in 2012 MDD will range between 90 to 124 MLD while ADD will range between 63 to 78 MLD.
The MDD being projected at this time for 2036 indicates an ADD range of 85.5 to 129 MLD and a MDD of 132 to 214 MLD.