Rainwater Harvesting: A Way to Meet Targets for Living Water Smart in BC

BC Government Position: 50% of new water municipal needs will be acquired through conservation by 2020 

What does this statement of provincial policy mean for architects, engineers and contractors in British Columbia? It means that rainwater harvesting will emerge as a substitute source of water supply, particularly for new commercial and institutional buildings (reference: page 75 in Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan).
Climate change is emerging as a driver for rainwater harvesting in the urban regions of British Columbia, partly because of the need to mitigate risk. In Metro Vancouver, for example, a declining snowpack means less water is available to replenish lake storage reservoirs during the high-demand summer season. The need to offset this loss provides an incentive to capture rain where it falls on roof surfaces.

New commercial buildings and/or land redevelopment to a higher density create opportunities to implement rainwater harvesting. An example is the Capital Region District (CRD) headquarters building in Victoria. “Completed in 2006, our 6-storey building uses a 60,000 litre concrete cistern to capture rainwater for reuse in low flow/dual flush toilets,” reports Jody Watson, CRD Harbours and Watersheds Coordinator. “Phase two of the building was Victoria’s first Gold LEED-certified building. Landscaping includes no permanent irrigation.”

“During a period of rapid growth when the regional population has doubled to 300,000 people, total annual water use has remained level. This reflects the cumulative benefits of water saving and re-use measures such as those in the CRD headquarters building.”

TO LEARN MORE: To read the complete article published in the March/April 2009 issue of Construction Business magazine, click on Rainwwater Harvesting: A Way to Meet Targets for Living Water Smart in BC. The article was written by Kim Stephens; with contributions by Eric Bonham, Jody Watson, Lynn Kriwoken and Amelia Loye.

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