Letter: Why we must continue to conserve water

Water conservation continues to be an important exercise for Greater Victoria residents

Located as we are on the wet West Coast, the Capital Region District’s water supply area for the Greater Victoria receives a reasonable amount of rainfall, 1,700 millimeters annually. However, the majority of our precipitation occurs from November to April. Our summers – and in recent years spring too – are warm and exceptionally dry, which results in a significant increase in water consumption, primarily due to outdoor uses.

Water use in the region is twice as high in the summer, when we rely exclusively on the drawdown of water stored in the Sooke and Goldstream reservoirs from the winter rains.

Like other jurisdictions in North America, we in the CRD have improved our water efficiency considerably over the past decade. However, these reductions in water demand have more or less been offset by population growth-related water demand in recent years, and there are already signs that per capita demand may level off in the near future, as water-efficient appliances and fixtures approach a saturation point. Over the next 20 years, our region’s population is projected to increase by tens of thousands of people, and we need to start thinking now about how we will accommodate this additional demand for our most precious resource.

We should strive as a region to meet our growing demand for water by being more efficient with the resources we already have, and the investments already made by taxpayers. Enhancing our individual water conservation efforts or simply being more cognizant of water wastage could help delay or even eliminate expensive investments required to expand our water supply infrastructure in order to meet the needs of the region’s growing population.

In the meantime, we’ll benefit from the higher quality water that results from a fuller reservoir, and we’ll become more resilient to climate change, which threatens to undermine the rainfall patterns we rely on to fill our reservoir each winter.

There are many tools and strategies available to encourage more efficient use of water. Conservation bylaws are one such tool. From May 1 – September 30 each year, the CRD automatically enters Stage 1 of the three stages contained within the bylaw, which places restrictions on outdoor watering activities. Subsequent stages, with more restrictive rules about water use, are activated as needed, in consideration of a range of factors such as reservoir levels, weather forecasts, and water consumption trends.

Pricing is a particularly effective means of influencing water-use behaviour. For example, municipal water service providers could introduce tiered water price structures that enable low-volume users to pay lower per-unit prices than high-volume users, providing residents with an incentive to reduce water use, particularly discretionary outdoor water use. Such conservation-oriented price structures are in place with great effect in many communities throughout the country, including on the Southern Gulf Islands serviced by the CRD, and those serviced by the Regional District of Nanaimo.

Given the seasonally variable nature of water availability in our region and the high outdoor demand during the dry summer season, the CRD, as the wholesale provider of water for most of the region, and the municipalities who set retail rates, should also consider the use of seasonal water rates. Seasonal rates have been adopted in recent years by Vancouver and Seattle, which face similar climactic conditions and water consumption trends.

An important starting point for all of us is more awareness of our water supply’s seasonal limitations and our personal consumption habits. Participating in a spring tour of the watershed areas is a great way to gain appreciation for our exceptionally secure and high-quality water supply. The CRD’s weekly online Water Watch reports provide updates on current water supply conditions, demand, and comparisons with previous years, and the CRD Water Conservation website also contains lots of water conservation tips you can consider to do your part.

Paul Elworthy,

Rebecca Mersereau

and Anne Gibson

CRD Water Advisory Committee

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely first in B.C. for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Located at 9750 West Saanich Rd., this North Saanich mansion is on the market for $10.25 million. (Realtor.ca photo)
Located at 9750 West Saanich Rd., this North Saanich mansion is on the market for $8.65 million. (Realtor.ca photo)
The five most expensive homes for sale in Greater Victoria

A roundup of luxury estates currently on the market

The Greater Victoria School District and two retired teachers are named as defendants in a lawsuit alleging that a student was sexually abused in the early 2000s. (Pixabay photo)
Former Saanich student files sexual abuse lawsuit against school district, retired teachers

Lawsuit claims student was groomed, abused by retired teacher

(Black Press Media file photo)
Mechanical issues blamed for Saanich car fire

‘Nothing untoward’ suspected, no injuries reported, firefighter says

Sidney's Beacon Wharf
Pontoon company piqued at prospect of public-private partnership around Sidney wharf

Seagate approached to submit proposeal for public-private partnership

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

Black Press file photo
Investigation at remote burned-out Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

Identity of victim not released, believed to be the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby

Angela Waldick is the new team photographer for the Nanaimo NightOwls. (Nanaimo NightOwls photo)
Half-blind photographer will help new Island baseball team look picture-perfect

Nanaimo NightOwls say legally blind team photographer is making history

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Dog owners, from left, Marlyn Briggs with Nayla, Marjory Sutherland with Effie and Mick, and Christina Godbolt with Conon walk their pets frequently at the Chemainus Ball Park but are growing increasingly concerned about drugs being found discarded in the area. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Puppy rushed to emergency 3 times after ingesting drugs in Chemainus public spaces

Dog owners walking in Chemainus parks urged to take caution

Most Read