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Capilano Lake and Cleveland Dam

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Drinking water was first piped to Vancouver from the Capilano River in 1889. As Vancouver’s need for water increased, so did its need for water reserves. The Cleveland Dam was built in 1954 to create a reservoir. The dam was named after Dr Ernest Albert Cleveland, first chief commissioner of the Greater Vancouver Water District from 1926 to 1952. The Cleveland Dam sits atop the Capilano River Regional Park blocking Capilano Lake, which supplies approximately 40 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s fresh drinking water.

The Capilano Watershed is one of three that supply Metro Vancouver with its high quality drinking water. The reservoir is 5.6 kilometers in length and 79 metres deep near the dam. It can hold 75 million cubic metres (16.5 billion gallons) of water. The land area that collects snow-melt and rainwater is called a watershed. As clouds blow in from the Pacific Ocean, they rise over the high mountain ridges and drop their moisture here as snow or rain. Water trickles over the steep slopes, forms streams and eventually flows into the Capilano River. The Capilano Watershed drains an area of 198 square kilometres. Dr Cleveland had the foresight to maintain a pristine water supply and restricted access to the watershed. The area surrounding Capilano Lake remains closed to the public. Free parking is available.


Picnic at Capilano Lake

Take a picnic and spend an afternoon at Capilano Lake enjoying the view of The Lions, the watershed and surrounding forest. The entrance to the picnic site is on Capilano Drive, north of the Capilano River Hatchery. Take a walk across the dam into the forest to see old growth cedars and wildlife, then follow your walk with a hike down the Capilano Pacific Trail to Ambleside Park in the District of West Vancouver.

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