"A Water Conservation Strategy for British Columbia" was developed by a working group chaired by Prad Khare. The Strategy will contribute to a sustained and healthy resource and provide a common framework for water management activities throughout the province by advancing water as a valuable resource which must be utilized efficiently, wisely and cost-effectively to sustain a high quality of social, environmental and economic well-being, for now and in the future.
In 1992, co-authored papers by Tom Heath and Kim Stephens and by Ted van der Gulik (left) and Kim Stephens were published as an integrated magazine article. "Although there is a perception that BC is water-rich, the reality is that we are often seasonally water-short (mainly because of storage limitations) during the period when water demand is heaviest due to lawn and garden irrigation," wrote the authors in their opening paragraph.
“Because we’ve been making adjustments and we’ve been reducing our water consumption, not watering our lawns or washing our cars and such, and using less water at home, it looks like hopefully we’ll be able to avoid the Stage 4 restrictions,” said Mayor Darrell Mussatto, Metro Vancouver Utilities Committee chair. “But indeed, we have to stay strong and continue to respect Stage 3, and that will happen probably right through until the end of September.”
Although Summerland’s reservoirs were not in distress, the District took proactive measures in late August to ensure the community's water supply is not depleted. “We want residents and businesses to understand the seriousness of the water situation in the Okanagan. Everyone needs to work together to do their part and make a conscious effort to voluntarily reduce their water consumption," said Mayor Peter Waterman.
Ian Tostenson is urging his membership to take a leadership role in the fight to conserve water in Metro Vancouver. “They want to do the right thing. The public expects us to be doing it. And in a way, it’s good for business, because people like to support businesses that show a community-minded side. I think it’s a good message to see our industry taking these steps," he said.
While public education and water restrictions help to conserve water, dramatic reductions can be achieved through water pricing. The City of Nanaimo employs water pricing that places the entire cost of water delivery on users without any subsidy from property tax. “That has had a huge impact. As (capital) costs have gone up, we’ve turned the water rates up and people have responded by turning their hoses off," reported Bill Sims.
“The community’s water conservation efforts during this period of drought have been remarkable. Water use has decreased by approximately 40% since going to Stage 3.Unfortunately, this unprecedented hot and dry weather has resulted in drier conditions within the watershed, which is causing our available water supply to deplete more rapidly as time goes on," stated Bryan Shoji.
When Stage 3 water restrictions were implemented by Metro Vancouver in July 2015, washing of vehicles was one of the activities that went from restricted to prohibited, unless it’s done at a commercial car wash. “Car dealers tend to be pretty good community supporters. It’s part of their DNA and with the current water situation they want to do their part," notes Blair Qualey, President of the New Car Dealers Association of B.C.
Green streets will be critical to satisfy a Los Angeles mandate to cut its use of imported water by half by 2024. When it rains, stormwater runoff flowing from a 124-acre drainage area through the project site will be captured and infiltrated to replenish the San Fernando Groundwater Basin. "We will achieve the water requirements we have to have to ensure water quality and storm runoff is at the highest standard,” said Enrique Zaldivar, director of L.A. Sanitation.
In July 2015 Metro Vancouver moved to Stage 3 water restrictions – banning all lawn sprinkling with treated drinking water and bringing in a number of other water conservation measures. “We need to reduce our discretionary use of water including lawn sprinkling and washing cars,” said Board Chair Greg Moore. “Our reservoir levels need to be maintained for priority needs in our homes and businesses, and for community needs like fire protection.”
“The ‘new normal’ in British Columbia is drought and flooding. The summer dry season has extended on both ends and communities can no longer count on a predictable snowpack and reliable rain to maintain a healthy water balance in their watersheds. This is putting water supply systems and ecosystems under extreme stress. If we seize the moment, we will change how we do business and the cumulative benefits will ripple through time,” stated Kim Stephens.