CARIBOO-CHILCOTIN CONSERVATION SOCIETY | Water Wise Reflections

A Cariboo country xeriscape garden. Photo: Marg Evans

A Cariboo country xeriscape garden. Photo: Marg Evans

 

By Jenny Howell, CCCS —

 

Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society |

Here we are again at the end of one year and the beginning of a new one. The time to reflect and assess then look ahead and plan. For Water Wise that includes looking at the Williams Lake water records to see how well the water conservation message is getting across. It’s been rewarding the last few years, watching annual water consumption rates drop in Williams Lake and seeing summer water use decline. Last year’s report showed average consumption rates between 2011 and 2013 at 28 per cent lower than before 2006, (and, yes, this takes into consideration fluctuations in industrial use, precipitation, and population). Hopefully once 2014 figures are assessed we will see a continued trend. So while everyone in Williams Lake should revel in this local success, I thought it would be interesting to see how the rest of Canada is doing with regard to water conservation—we certainly aren’t the only city dealing with this issue.

So, off to wade through Statistic Canada’s website. Stats are fun because they tell a story, and I did find a rather nice water story, but maybe not the story I was expecting. For some reason, I rather smugly assumed that Williams Lake would be the shining of beacon of water conservation in a sea of water-guzzling municipalities. But, while we have been working on this issue, so, it seems, has everyone else. The statistic for average per capita water use for all of Canada shows an overall drop of 27 per cent from 1991 to 2011 (the most recent available data), bringing the average Canadian’s daily water use from 342 litres to 251 litres.

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So are we just average after all? Well, after musing for a while I decided definitely not. In 2011, 58 per cent of Canadian residences were on metered water compared to 52 per cent in 1991. Houses on meters using volume-based pricing (you pay for what you use) use a whopping 73 per cent less water than un-metered flat rate households—as in Williams Lake—according to Stats Canada. Sixty-three per cent of Canadian houses now have a low flow shower heads and 47 per cent have a low flow toilet—once you start paying more for water, it makes sense that water saving fixtures seem like a good idea. Williams Lake has so far managed its water conservation completely voluntarily, without metering and using rebates as incentives to switch to water saving fixtures—all gentle encouragement and no stick and yet still getting an impressive response from residents.

So as we move into 2015 and you are floundering to come up with a New Year’s resolution, how about making this the year that you will finally get that low flow showerhead, invest in a front load washing machine, or switch your old, leaking toilets to new water saving versions? Or, maybe get more ambitious and start planning your new xeriscape garden—what better way to get through the long dark evenings ahead? It has been inspiring to see more and more beautiful xeriscape gardens springing up around town. If you don’t want to take on a big project, then continue on with keeping showers short (under five minutes), turning off taps, and only running full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher. Whatever you can do to save water is better than doing nothing at all. Happy Water Wise in 2015!

 

For more information on Water Wise or Waste Wise and any of our school and community programs, contact the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society at sustain@ccconserv.org or visit the website at www.ccconserv.org.

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