Greater Victoria’s Drinking Water System Marks Centennial Year

Jun 03, 2015

Victoria, BC– This year marks the Centennial Anniversary of Sooke Lake Reservoir, the source of Greater Victoria’s drinking water supply and the origins of the Regional Water Supply System, which continues to provide a reliable supply of clean and safe drinking water to the residents of our region.

“I would like to thank leaders from the T'sou-ke and Tsawout First Nations for participating in our Centennial ceremony,” said CRD Board Chair Nils Jensen. “These lands have been integral resource lands for the Coast Salish people for millennia and we share a common interest in protecting this resource for generations to come.”

It was 100 years ago that the Sooke Lake Reservoir was commissioned as the new source of Victoria’s water supply. In the early 1900’s, Elk Lake was the water supply for Victoria and it was determined near the turn of the century that it could no longer meet Victoria's water needs.  A consulting engineer from San Francisco was brought in to recommend solutions and Sooke Lake was presented as a possible source. The question of using this water source went to the ratepayers in a referendum and was supported by a two-thirds majority of those voting. [1]

The reservoir has undergone various upgrades over the years to meet the drinking water and fire protection demands of the growing area. The original dam was 3.7 m high in 1915 and in 1967, flashboards were added to the spillway to increase the water level by 1.2 m. Again in 1971, the reservoir level was increased by 5.4 m by building a larger dam behind the first, and, in 2003, the dam was raised by 6 m, doubling the size of the 1970 dam and bringing the total water storage volume to 160.3 million cubic metres.

From the approximate 35,000 residents in 1915 to the approximately 350,000 people served by the system in Greater Victoria today, the Sooke Lake Reservoir continues to supply almost 100 percent of the water used by area residents. Currently across the region, the CRD treats and delivers an average of 130 million litres of water every day. There are 20,500 hectares of protected water supply area including 11 dams and 6 reservoirs.

“We are thankful for the incredible foresight and determination of those that saw the potential of Sooke Lake in the early days,” said Ted Robbins, General Manager of Integrated Water Services. “We are all responsible for the continued stewardship of the Greater Victoria Water Supply Area to uphold the best water quality and the safest and most reliable drinking water resources for our region for the next 100 years.”

For information on the history of Victoria’s drinking water supply, and to view images from the Centennial Celebration, visit www.crd.bc.ca/education/drinking-water/100-years-of-water

The Capital Regional District (CRD) supplies drinking water for residential, commercial, institutional, and agriculture uses to approximately 350,000 people within the municipalities in the Greater Victoria area on the southeast corner of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The population served by the Greater

Regional Water Supply System is the third largest in British Columbia. The protected Water Supply area lands are located within the traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples.

 The Greater Victoria Water Supply Area is made up of three main watersheds feeding two reservoir systems. The Sooke Water Supply Area feeds Sooke Lake Reservoir that has been used for water supply since 1915.  

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For media inquiries, please contact:
Ted Robbins, General Manager
CRD Integrated Water Services
Tel: 250.360.3061
Cell: 250.217.9084



[1] Tolman, C.(2015) Bringing Water to Victoria. Victoria, BC: Sooke Regional Museum