WATER EFFICIENT YARDS AND GARDENS: “The BC Landscape Water Calculator is a new tool for the CRD’s Summer Waterwise Campaign. It has real potential to foster a stewardship ethic on the part of homeowners,” stated Glenn Harris, Senior Manager of the Capital Regional District’s environmental protection team
Note to Reader:
The edition of Waterbucket eNews published on June 8, 2021 focused on targeting seasonal outdoor water use. This represents the best opportunity to achieve “water use in balance with a changing water cycle”. The spotlight was on the Partnership for Water Sustainability’s program to operationalize use of the BC Landscape Water Calculator, the newest tool in the Partnership toolbox. The Calculator is up and running in three regions: Okanagan, Vancouver Island and Fraser Valley.
Outdoor Water Use in Balance with a Changing Water Cycle
“Warmer and wetter winters; longer and drier summers. When supply is at a minimum, demand is at a maximum. This is British Columbia’s new reality. Adapting means that we must view water differently. Our seasonal use of water for yard and garden irrigation must be in balance with a changing water cycle,” stated Kim Stephens, Waterbucket eNews Editor and Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.
“To achieve the goal of water sustainability, the 45 actions and targets in Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan establish expectations for Doing Business Differently, Preparing Communities for Change, and Choosing to Be Water Smart.”
“To support necessary changes in water resource and demand management practice, the Partnership and governments are collaborating to develop resources and implement science-based tools that build understanding and influence choices. One of these tools is the BC Landscape Water Calculator.”
“Widespread use of this online, public domain tool would help communities meet their targets for allowable water use and total demand reduction at the property and community scales, respectively.”
Science-Based, the BC Landscape Water Calculator is Evolving Through Collaboration
“The Partnership for Water Sustainability has collaborated with three local governments to operationalize the BC Landscape Water Calculator in three regions: Okanagan (City of Kelowna), Fraser Valley (City of Abbotsford) and Vancouver Island (Capital Regional District). With each application, there is a new twist. Each time, we evolve the tool to meet the needs of our partners. Everyone benefits. This is the power of the collaborative approach,” stated Ted van der Gulik, Chair, BC Landscape Water Calculator Program. Prior to retirement from government, he was the Senior Engineer in the Ministry of Agriculture.
The First Cohort of Demonstration Applications
“The tool is universal, but the drivers for local governments using it are different. The Kelowna version is oriented to contractors who must submit reports as a requirement of the QWEL program. In the case of Abbotsford, the focus is squarely on homeowners who wish to apply for a $250 Waterwise Landscape Rebate. In the Capital Regional Region, the tool supports Live Green and Work Green educational programs in the residential and commercial sectors, respectively.”
“Customizing of the tool for each region included plant selection dropdowns. Sounds innocuous, doesn’t it? Not so! There is no readily available resource for water efficient plants in British Columbia. The Partnership had to customize a database for each region. This is a key resource; and is unique to the BC Landscape Water Calculator.
“But the inventory of water efficient plants is accessible only in communities where the local government is a project partner. In addition to this valuable feature, the calculator provides users with guidance as to whether plant selections are suitable for sun exposure or shade. Think about why that is important.”
To Learn More:
View an online demo of the tool by Ted van der Gulik on YouTube. Then test drive the BC Landscape Water Calculator at http://bcwatercalculator.ca/landscape/irrigation
Live Green, Work Green in the Capital Regional District
“The BC Landscape Water Calculator is yet another example of how being one of the partners in the Water Sustainability Partnership means that local governments can benefit from the work of others, and then take that work a little bit further each time,” stated Glenn Harris, Senior Manager Capital Regional District.
“The cities of Kelowna and Abbotsford were instrumental in operationalizing the tool. Now, the CRD has come on board. As well, CRD has a different water regime and climate. This inter-regional collaboration showcases how the BC Water Landscape Calculator is adaptable to different regions that have different concerns and constraints around water supply.”
“CRD is embarking upon a broader, integrated educational approach to align water conservation and watershed health messaging. Using the online BC Landscape Water Calculator as part of this program will enable participation by more homeowners and businesses to design their green spaces to use water wisely. Once we raise awareness of the calculator through outreach and education, use by homeowners will be voluntary.”
“The ultimate goal of a whole-system approach to a healthy landscape program would be to use less water during dry weather and reduce rainwater runoff during wet weather.
To Learn More:
To read the complete article, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Operationalizing the BC Landscape Water Calculator