Leading by Example in BC: Water Smart Ambassador Program in the Columbia Basin region



Columbia Basin Water Smart_header image

A Strong Tool Kit Includes Good Data and Great Personalities

Across BC, local governments are dealing with the daily realities of winter in Canada; at this time of year, snow removal is more likely to be a hot topic than residential water conservation. In the Columbia Basin region, however, local governments are already planning for the 2015 irrigation season, and many are thinking about how to deliver successful public water conservation education and outreach activities. It is timely, therefore, to share some of the valuable lessons Basin communities learned through the 2014 Water Smart Ambassador Program.

Water Smart Ambassador Program

“The lessons learned by Basin communities are relevant to any community trying to reduce peak demand driven by irrigation,” said Neal Klassen, Coordinator, Columbia Basin Water Smart Ambassador Program. “There is no need to reinvent Neal Klassen_2014_120pthe wheel.”

“To measurably reduce irrigation demand through residential water conservation outreach, you need a strong tool kit that includes good data and great personalities who are meeting people right at their homes and places of work.”

Through the Columbia Basin Water Smart initiative, Basin communities are working to raise the bar on water conservation outreach. Moving beyond brochures and newsletters, they are now relying on proven actions that measurably reduce total and peak water demand for local government water utilities.

Meredith Hamstead_120p“Reducing residential and park irrigation is much more than responsible natural resource stewardship; we now know it is an integral part of sustainable asset management,” said Meredith Hamstead, Water Smart Coordinator. “Even in communities where water supply is abundant, by reducing peak daily and monthly demand, water utilities can lower operation costs, encourage infrastructure deferral, and in some cases reduce the local infrastructure funding gap.”

Working with Water Smart, some communities in the region have been doing face-to-face outreach for four years with a variety of results.

Case Study Experience

The short stories at the links below showcase successes (and some unintended consequences!) that may provide insight for utilities planning to do similar outreach in the rapidly approaching 2015 irrigation season.

Columbia Basin Water Smart helps participating regional districts, municipalities and First Nations in the Columbia Basin assess and address their water conservation needs and plan for the most locally effective actions to reduce community-wide water consumption. Learn more at cbt.org/watersmart. For more information, contact Meredith Hamstead.