Mayor John Ruttan says Nanaimo could face a water crisis by 2020 if action isn't taken soon.
Ruttan said city engineers have told him that in about seven years, the demand for water will exceed the supply if current demands continue.
He said water demands are rising because the city signed water servicing agreements with the Snuneymuxw First Nation last year and will likely be providing water to Lantzville soon.
"Water is kind of a basic human need and we wouldn't say 'we have water, but we're not going to provide it to you,'" Ruttan said.
"I think we'll find a solution. We know that a challenge awaits us in the future, we know it could be around 2020, That's why, here we are in 2013, trying to identify possible options that we could look at going ahead."
The city is looking at the possibility of building another dam, which could cost up to $100 million, or adding height to the existing Jump Creek Dam.
There is also ongoing discussion about accessing some of the water license for Harmac Pacific dam at Fourth Lake.
Ruttan said the city is trying to make sure infrastructure is in good condition to prevent leaks.
He said if the city needs to construct a new dam or make renovations to an existing dam, construction could take years which is why planning needs to start now.
He encourages people to take advantage of water conservation methods like low-flush toilets - for which the city provides rebates for - and being practical with water use when it isn't absolutely necessary. "It's always a challenge but the thing is, you don't want to run out of water and then start looking," he said.
"Maybe having the greenest lawn in the neighbourhood might not be as important now going forward."
According to the city, Nanaimo currently uses about 16,000 million litres of water a year.
Consumption is expected to rise to approximately 20,000 million litres by 2020.
© Copyright 2013